About this Blog

I’m a mom of two, a distance runner, a marketing manager, and a heart attack survivor. This blog is about my life with heart disease.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women in America; more women die from it than all forms of cancer combined. Too few women know their risk, and even fewer act to protect themselves. I write this blog because I lived, and too many women don’t.

I was 37 when I had a heart attack; at 38 I narrowly escaped another one. Healthy, strong, and in training for my second marathon, this was the last thing I dreamed would ever happen. But if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. Women need to know the risks, symptoms, and signs of heart disease. Women need to make their health a priority.

This blog began as a place for me to collect what I was learning about my disease, share news with my family, and work through the anxiety and change that comes with survival. A year later it — and me — are still going strong. I hope you find it useful, inspiring, and once in a while, maybe a little funny. I hope it helps you as it has helped me.

Thanks for reading –
Jen

Contact me at jen(at)mylifeinred.net

Comments

  1. My local AHA affiliate shared your blog with me. It’s really great to see another survivor sharing her experience in hope of healing and advocating.

    Best of luck in your journey!

    Rachel

    • Rachel,

      Thank you for finding me and reading! I’ve just caught up on your amazing story and I’m so glad we connected. And you look familiar – are you featured in some national Go Red stories and photos? I hope we keep in touch – I’ll be following your blog.

      Jen

  2. Peggy Cavanagh says:

    Hi Jen,
    I, too, had a cardiac event last year called Takotsubo’s Cardiomyopathy or Broken Heart Syndrome. It mimics a heart attack but there is no blockage. I did, however, get blood clots on my heart after the attack. I have fully recovered. This happened to me 25 years after having eclampsia and HELLP syndrome with baby #1 and preeclampsia with baby #3. I have been told that there is no connection, but question that with further research. Thanks for sharing your story and glad that you and your son are doing well. Are you on the FB HELLP syndrome blog? There are close to 800 of us from all over the world!
    Take care,
    Peggy Cavanagh
    Ann Arbor, Michigan

    • Hi Peggy!

      Thank you for reading — I’m glad you found me. I agree, there’s definitely a connection between HELLP and later heart issues. Maybe its just relatively new-ish as a risk factor and is crowded out by the others.

      Take care,
      Jen

      • Peggy Cavanagh says:

        Hi Jen,
        How are you feeling these days? I just and now seeing your reply from almost a year and a half ago. Yikes! I hope this message finds you well.
        Sending you good wishes from Ann Arbor, MI,

        Peggy

        • I’m feeling great lately – thank you! I’ve had mostly good days for more than a year, and I feel very lucky.

          Have a great weekend and thanks for staying in touch!
          Jen

  3. Hi Jen
    I’m new to all of this heart disease stuff lol. My father passed of cardiac arrest in August this year. And on Nov 8th, wow almost a month now, I went to the hospital with chest pain. They ruled out that I was having or did have a heart attack. Yay me. But due to the new family history the hospital offered me to stay to get more tests to ensure my heart was ok. Well by Nov 10th I had a stent put in my LAD with a 80% blockage. I’m still trying to process this 2nd chance I was given. There are days I’m feeling good and then there are days I’m checking my heart rate so much I get anxiety (which makes it worse) that something will happen again and I won’t make it outta that one. Is this all normal? I’m 32 and haven’t found anyone that can relate to what I’m dealing with. I stumbled upon your page just by doing research and enjoyed your story & your brothers. Any advice would be greatly greatly appreciated!
    Thank you

    • Hi Tammy!

      I’m so glad you are okay! And I’m so sorry about your father.

      Thank you for reading my story. I’m glad you’ve found me. Your anxiety is perfectly normal — and I totally understand the feeling of loneliness or not having anyone to relate to as well. That’s part of why I started this blog!

      It will take time but you will start to feel less anxious eventually, especially if you take action, such as cardiac rehab, seeking support for diet and exercise, learning about heart disease, finding a doctor you trust and like, and finding people who do understand you. All of those things help. And then doing everything you can to be as strong as possible if something should ever happen again. That’s all we all can do, but I have found doing those things helped enormously.

      Take care and I hope you keep in touch!!

      Jen

  4. Hi Jen,

    I just read your webpage and found it very inspiring and dynamic. I volunteer for a very large and growing group in Michigan, “The Plant Based Nutrition Support Group.” Have you heard of Dr. Esselstyn’s program? We follow plant-based nutrition for heart health and more. Please get in contact and see our page if you wish to know more. Also, we are on FB at the same group name. Your daughter is adora ble by the way and want to try her red pepper penne.

  5. Stephanie White says:

    Hi Jen,
    I too am a survivor of Hellp syndrome. My son was born in July 94. I was told that I had a full recovery. On Sept 11 2015 I had a heart attack at 45 years old. They used stents and in recovery my stents closed back up and I had another heart attack. They had too reopen the stents and it worked so I thought. When I went to see my doctor for the follow up visit, I asked him if he thought there was any relation to my Hellp syndrome and my heart attack. I was told in no way shape or form was it related. On Dec 13 2015 I awoke to another heart attack. On the way to the hospital I was given Nitro and it stopped the heart attack. When my cardiologist came in he was in disbelief that I had another heart attack. After enzyme checks indeed I had suffered another one. The next morning I was taken to the cath lab and they joked with me that they were only going to do this once this time. Well I had another on the table in the cath lab. I was clotting up every time they tried to open my arteries. They then placed a balloon pump in me and flew me to a larger hospital. After the balloon pump malfunctioned it was removed. After seeing every cardiologist at this hospital and being diagnosed with S protein deficiency they sent me to UVA. At every place I asked about a correlation between my Hellp Syndrome and what was going on with my heart and clotting. To make a long story short, I underwent open heart surgery on Christmas Eve 2015. They had to do a 4 bypass. I too am angry that cardiologists are not being informed of these things. I literally begged at UVA that they study this. I told them over and over about the eerie coincidences of the clotting. I am so happy that I found your story it helps. I take life one day at a time now.

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