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Published on February 16, 2016

“I didn’t think anything could be wrong with me”

Heart disease survivor tells women to listen to their bodies

Heart survivor, Mary Genoble

Every time Mary Genoble went for a jog, she had chest pain.

In the spring of 2014, at age 45, Mary was fit, active and jogging three miles multiple times a week. Despite the pain in her chest, she never thought anything could be wrong with her.

“I never thought about it, I figured it was heartburn,” she said. “Even though my husband said something wasn’t right, but I didn’t think anything could be wrong with me.”

To ease the pain Mary was taking heartburn medication and if that didn’t work, she would turn to Advil for relief. But her pain progressively got worse.

“It continued on through the summer and got really bad around July,” she said. “We were on a family vacation and I was running on the beach. I would feel nauseous and need a few minutes before I felt better.”

Into the fall of 2014, Mary continued to ignore the chest pain, nausea and even the arm pain, which she thought was carpel tunnel syndrome. The nausea she attributed to something she ate.

“I came up with a reason for every symptom I was having,” she said. “I never thought anything could be wrong with my heart. Then the pain happened not just when I was exercising, but if I got stressed, like if I was running late and trying to get my four children somewhere or even when I was just driving down the road.”

Finally, Mary’s husband, Tommy, went to a friend who was cardiology nurse to help nudge his wife into seeing a doctor. Their friend made an appointment for Mary. The next morning, Mary was doubled over her bed and holding her chest in pain.

“I went to the cardiologist and saw Dr. Srivastava,” Mary said. “The whole way to the doctor, I thought the appointment was going to be overkill. I thought I would look whiney or like I was complaining because I thought I looked like the picture of health.”

Though Mary’s numbers looked good, Nalin Srivastava, MD, didn’t like the sound of her symptoms and scheduled an appointment for her in Spartanburg Medical Center’s Cath Lab.

“That’s when it hit me that something could be wrong,” Mary said. “At the cath lab, they found an 80 percent blockage in my LAD, which can be deadly.”

The LAD, or left anterior descending artery, is the one of the coronary arteries that supplies the heart muscle with blood. The LAD is considered the most important of the three main coronary arteries because it is the largest, and supplies twice as much blood than the other coronary arteries. A major blockage in this artery is often referred to as “the Widow Maker” since it can be lethal.

“My family was really shocked,” Mary said. “Several of my coworkers came to me and said if it could happen to me, then they were worried it could happen to them too.”

“I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Srivastava. He didn’t think ‘She’s low risk,’ but went with his gut feelings that something could be wrong. He took me seriously when sometimes women’s symptoms are ignored,” she said. “Your body will let you know if something is wrong, so don’t second guess symptoms or ignore what your body is telling you. Don’t be so busy that you forget about yourself.”

Not only should women listen to their bodies, but also listen to each other.

“Heart disease is the number one killer of women and the symptoms for women are different from men,” Mary said. “Know the symptoms for women and encourage them to see a doctor. Being proactive could save a life of a friend, sister or mother.”

Want to learn more about how to protect your heart, make heart-healthy choices and try new exercises such as aerobics, kickboxing, dancing and yoga? Join us at Don’t Stop the Beat: Day of Dance on Saturday, Feb. 27, from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the Heart Center Auditorium at Spartanburg Medical Center. Get tips on nutrition and advice for making healthy choices. Learn about risk factors for heart disease and how to keep a heart beating with hands-only CPR. Enjoy a healthy breakfast at this free event. Register online at SpartanburgRegional.com/Heart or call 864-560-7999.

About Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System

Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) offers a full spectrum of services through four hospitals: Spartanburg Medical Center, Pelham Medical Center, Spartanburg Hospital for Restorative Care and Union Medical Center. SRHS also includes Ellen Sagar Nursing Center, 113-bed long-term care, skilled nursing facility that offers nursing care and rehabilitation services. SRHS provides unparalleled oncological care through the Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute. The multidisciplinary Medical Group of the Carolinas has more than 300 physicians across seven counties in two states. SRHS employs nearly 6,000 associates and offers outpatient surgery centers, a vibrant post-acute division, a Level I Trauma Center, and Advicare, a licensed Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). Advicare provides Medicaid services to residents throughout the state of South Carolina. U.S. News and World Report ranked Spartanburg Medical Center the No. 1 regional hospital in South Carolina in 2014-15. The Commission on Cancer gave Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute its Outstanding Achievement Award.

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