One Woman’s Journey Surviving a Heart Attack

Fargo woman shares her survival story, hoping to inspire others

FARGO, N.D. — February is American Heart Month. The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Woman campaign is encouraging women to take their heart health seriously.

One woman wanted to share her story to help others to be more aware.

“Putzing around the house and whatever,” says Wentz.

Mary Wentz, of Fargo, like many people on the weekend, was trying to catch up around the house and taking a break from a busy work week.

She says, “I started feeling yucky late in the afternoon, like an ‘ishy’ stomach.”

It was the middle of the afternoon on May 29th this past spring.

Mary said she hadn’t eaten yet for the day and figured it was just her stomach.

Her symptoms started to get worse.

Wentz says, “My arms started to ache, I can’t tell you, describe where they hurt. They just hurt and I just kept trying to stretch it and stretch it and then I’d lean on the sink and when I did, that’s when I realized how bad I was sweating cause it was just running off me.”

Little did Mary know, she was experiencing a heart attack.

Dr. Samantha Kapphahn is an interventional cardiologist at Essentia Health. She says it’s not uncommon for someone to mistake their symptoms.

Dr. Kapphahn says, “So for a lot of us, we have the idea that a heart attack has to feel something like a lot of pressure or pain the chest.”

Mary, who’s 66, turned to the internet for help.

Wentz says, “The one I remember the most, it was the most ridiculous was if you have a crease in your ear lobe, you might be susceptible to hearts attacks.”

Dr. Kapphahn says while the internet can be a source of information.

It might not be the best at addressing each person’s situation.

“Not necessarily does it have to be the case where everyone has a heart attack and feel exactly the same way and so we do want them to really be aware of these are the constellation of symptoms that you may feel, you don’t have to have all of them to be nervous or concerned but you do have to listen to your body,” says Dr. Kapphahn.

Cardiovascular diseases kill nearly one in three women each year.

Fortunately, the American Heart Association says we can change that because 80% of cardiovascular diseases may be preventable with education and action.

Dr. Kapphahn says, “Certainly we want them to be aware of what their cardiovascular risk factors are and that includes knowing what your blood pressures are doing and sometimes that includes knowing your numbers in terms of your cholesterol profile.”

Since having a heart attack, Mary has made some changes, like exercise and different eating habits.

“Salt and I have been a very heavy salt person and every so often I still use it cause eggs just aren’t the same without some salt.”

Dr. Kapphahn says, “I think it’s a much more empowering way of looking at it, is to say, ‘every day I make some big decisions or small decisions that it may not necessarily be the case of making dramatic changes all in one day.”

Mary has two four-legged kids that she comes home to every day, 10-year-olds Sunny and Chelsey.
Those loved ones depend on her.

Wentz says, “Don’t wait too long if you start getting any symptoms. Right away and you may think it’s nothing but it could be something.”

And like Mary, most women are concerned about taking care of their families, keeping a clean house, or as some would say, “doing it all.”

Her first thought when she told she was having a heart attack was…”What a mess my house was. I’m going to have people, you know? People are going to come visit me and I got to get the house cleaned.”

Mary is one of many that are good reminders to slow down and take care of yourself for a healthier tomorrow.

The annual Go Red for Women Luncheon will be held Thursday at the Radisson downtown Fargo. It starts at 11 am.

The event raises money to fight heart disease and stroke.

Categories: Health, Local News, News Landing Page, North Dakota News