Since February is American Heart Month, I wanted to add my story to the article about broken heart syndrome, “After husband’s death, widow soon follows,” published by this newspaper, Feb. 2.

I particularly wanted to talk about stress as being a cause of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. As a 62-year-young woman, I recently suffered a heart attack after losing my father to Alzheimer’s disease and the elimination of my husband’s job of 36 years three months later. Needless to say, both of these events were pretty good stressors.

I had no pain; I felt only pressure in the middle of my sternum. Thinking it was nothing, I proceeded to volunteer at the Monmouth Vestry Thrift store. Once there, I felt weak and broke out in a sweat. A woman, who happened to be an emergency room nurse, asked how I felt. I told her my symptoms and she told me to get to the hospital immediately.

My husband drove me to MaineGeneral, where an EKG showed that I was indeed having a heart attack. Because Takotsubo cardiomyopathy can present itself as a blockage, I was sent by ambulance to Maine Medical Center. A catherization showed no blockage, but an echocardiogram showed damage to my left ventricle, which was diagnosed as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.

I spent 24 hours in ICU and two days in the cardiac unit. The care I had at both hospitals was excellent, and I am on the road to recovery. Luckily, most of my damage can be repaired through a gradual re-entry to my former exercise program, a new yoga class, counseling, meditation and a couple of new medications.

I wish I knew who that nurse was so I could thank her. She very likely saved my life, and I am so grateful.

Jane Manson


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