In her attempt to overcome her family history of heart disease, 62-year-old Pamela Smith has always focused on eating right and taking care of herself.
Her father died of a heart attack when she was three and being aware that she might be at higher risk, Pamela, and her twin sister Patricia Wood vowed in their 20s to stay fit and eat healthy.
Nonetheless, on August 10, 2019, Patricia had a widowmaker heart attack. Her left anterior descending artery (LAD) was blocked 100%.
Within two weeks of her twin’s heart event, Pamela saw a cardiologist, had a stress test, and was given a clean bill of health. "I felt like I was going to beat it," she said.
But this past September, just a year after Patricia’s heart event, Pam felt a strange flutter high in her chest and a sensation on the left side of her neck. Then she began to sweat profusely. Just like Patricia, she felt it couldn't be her heart. She had been given the "all clear" less than a year before.
However, after a heaviness in her left arm continued that evening and the following morning, Pamela and her husband, Raymond, headed to Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center. Doctors confirmed that it was a heart attack. Her LAD was approximately 90% blocked caused a sudden unpredictable plaque rupture.
Upon release, Pamela started attending the same cardiac rehab as her sister, so the staff felt like they already knew her. She has made good progress physically, but still struggles to adjust to her new status as a heart attack survivor.
"All of a sudden, I've had a heart attack. I have a stent. And now I'm taking all these drugs to make sure my body doesn't reject the stent and prevent a future heart event," Pamela said. “I thought I was doing everything right, but genetics took over. It is so important to listen to your body and realize you need to seek medical help immediately. Fortunately for me, I survived and am here to share my story and bring awareness to other women.”
Pamela Smith is a 2021 Forsyth County Go Red Woman. She is sharing her story to help prevent heart disease in women. Novant Health is proud to be the American Heart Association’s “Life is Why” and “Go Red for Women” sponsor in Forsyth County, celebrating, supporting and encouraging women to put their health first wherever they may be in their journey.