Contact: Nicole Napoli, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-375-6523
WASHINGTON (Feb 16, 2016) -
Myra Robin was 43 when a “widowmaker” heart attack permanently damaged her heart and left her with multiple cardiac conditions, including heart failure. Her life was “forever changed,” but she hasn’t let that stop her from embracing heart healthy habits and inspiring others with her experiences. Because of her commitment to living well with heart disease, Robin is being recognized by the American College of Cardiology’s “I am CardioSmart” contest.
CardioSmart is the ACC’s patient education and support program. Its mission is to engage, inform and empower patients to better prepare them to participate in their own care. The “I am CardioSmart” contest recognizes individuals living well with heart disease. Robin was among five finalists representing different heart conditions chosen by “I am CardioSmart” this year.
One evening, Robin began feeling unusual chest pressure that left her unable to fall asleep. She took two antacid tablets hoping that would ease the pain. Instead it continued to get worse and she began to sweat profusely.
She said she thought of her father and brother who both had heart attacks at a young age. She took two full strength aspirin, which she later learned might have saved her life. Once she could not lift her arms because they felt so heavy, she alerted her husband and drove to the nearest emergency room. The nurses told her she was not only having a heart attack, but “it was a big one.”
She had three stents put in her main artery, but her heart had been without oxygen too long and sustained permanent and irreversible heart damage.
Today, Robin has heart failure, left ventricular dysfunction, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy and atrial fibrillation, but she’s used her heart disease as a reason to inspire others and to adopt healthier life habits.
“My motto is, ‘do not let heart disease define who you are, nor who you can become,’” Robin said.
And she hasn’t. Stress was a large contributor to her heart disease, so when her cardiologist at Lafayette General Medical Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, recommended she reconsider her career in senior management at a sheet metal manufacturing facility for a less stressful one, she was shocked but eventually realized he was right. She credits her great relationship with her cardiologist and heart failure specialist in playing a key role in managing her heart failure.
Robin now works part time at her local church where she has a much more low-stress job creating a welcoming and inviting atmosphere for church members. She also quit smoking and has altered both her and her family’s diet to reduce their salt intake and use heart healthy substitutions for butter and fats.
“I learned cooking from my mother. She cooked all of the tasty Cajun dishes we are recognized for, which unfortunately are not so healthy and filled with butter and fats,” Robin said. “I have learned to modify those dishes into heart healthy ones by using simple substitutions and adopting the philosophy of ‘all things in moderation.’”
Robin has also become involved with the national organization WomenHeart and works as a WomenHeart Champion Educator to educate others about heart disease being the number one killer of women.
“I have been able to meet so many women who share a similar story as mine; a story of survival,” she said. “I call these ladies my heart sisters. My heart sisters inspire me. They teach me that life is short and that we should live each day as if it were our last.”
The winners of this year’s “I am CardioSmart” contest were featured on CardioSmart’s Facebook page, where visitors were allowed to vote on the most inspirational story and select the overall winner, which was Christian Jacobs of West Jefferson, Ohio.
The four other heart disease condition winners from the “I am CardioSmart” contest are being announced throughout February to bring awareness to heart disease during Heart Month.
To learn more about preventing or living well with heart disease, visit www.cardiosmart.org.
To learn more about Robin’s story, visit www.cardiosmart.org/Connect/Patient-Stories/Myra-Robin.
To learn more about heart failure symptoms, treatment and prevention, visit www.cardiosmart.org/Heart-Conditions/Heart-Failure.
The American College of Cardiology is a 52,000-member medical society that is the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team. The mission of the College is to transform cardiovascular care and to improve heart health. The ACC leads in the formation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The College operates national registries to measure and improve care, provides professional medical education, disseminates cardiovascular research and bestows credentials upon cardiovascular specialists who meet stringent qualifications. For more information, visit acc.org.