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Paula Stanley, Georgia

I have worked as a nurse for 30 years.  In June 2009, I experienced a heart attack. 

Thankfully, I was at work in vascular surgery when this happened.  A heart catheterization revealed that I have intramyocardial mid lad, meaning that my left anterior descending artery is imbedded into my heart instead of laying on the surface.  The artery squeezed my heart, cutting off the oxygen flow to my heart, and caused me to have a heart attack. 

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This diagnosis surprised me because of my good physical condition, running since age 17.  But come to find out, I have been experiencing symptoms since childhood, such as dizziness, chest pain, fainting, nausea and sweating.  I can’t believe I went undiagnosed all those years!  I really think my gender and physical shape played a role in me not being diagnosed sooner.  Fortunately, I have a wonderful cardiologist and nurse practioner who have been holding my hand through the entire experience.  I know not everyone is lucky to have such excellent medical support.  That’s why I want to educate the public and medical field about this condition.  After all, heart disease is the number one killer of women. 
 
Even after all this, I believe everything happens for a reason.  Today, my 20 year-old daughter is experiencing the same symptoms I once did.  This time, I knew what to look for.  My daughter had a CT scan of the arteries of the heart and everything looks good, but she started an aspirin regimen and is doing great.  I went through many years thinking I was crazy having the symptoms I did.  I am grateful I was able to run all those years, but this should have been diagnosed much sooner.  Because my life was saved, I just might be able to save hers. 

(Adendum to original article) Adendum publish date 7.9.18

It has been nine years since my first heart attack and many tests, including: stress tests, stress echos, ct scans and heart caths. Unfortunately, I had to have two stents due to lack to blood flow to the bottom half of my heart. After the placement of the 2nd stent, I had my second heart attack. Thank goodness there was no permanent damage. I have had many medication changes, but I still feel blessed to have had great care from all my physicians and nurse practitioner.

I was doing research about six months ago online and found a fairly new surgery called unroofing for myocardial bridges.This surgery was only being done at Stanford University in California. I contacted them and acquired all of my medical records and sent them for review to Dr. Ingel Schnittnger. She is the head of Cardiovascular Surgery at Stanford University. They actually peel the layers of the myocardium off the embedded LAD. She has recorded great results with this surgery and I was so excited. I read everything I could about it, including many stories of those who have had the surgery. Many are able to get back to an almost completely normal life.

Unfortunately due to my stents, they are unable to measure the compression and depth of my bridge and believe that the LAD is too deep to have the outcome I desire. To learn of this news was a big disappointment and to say I was disappointed is an understatement. 

Even though they could not do my surgery, they are helping so many people and word is spreading. They have a clinic there and are receiving more and more calls weekly about this surgery. 

I am doing ok and will continue on telling everyone who will listen about this new program. My heartfelt thanks goes to Dr. S, Joy, Donna and Alma at Stanford University. They are amazing angels.

An article called Unroofing Myocardial Bridges at Stanford University is available online (Dated October 2016)

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