A 14-12 months-old imagined she had ‘butterflies’ from dancing with a boy at winter season formal. It was a coronary heart assault.

Cierra Zeagler with husband

Zeager, now 23, married her husband in October 2020.Courtesy of Cierra Zeagler

Ceirra Zeager considered her pounding heart was excitement from attending her first school dance.

But it turned out to be the commencing of a heart assault, induced by a congenital heart defect.

Zeager, now 23, is sharing her tale as a volunteer for the American Heart Affiliation.

As a high faculty freshman in rural Pennsylvania, Ceirra Zeager was a wallflower who concentrated on her schoolwork and artwork. She failed to participate in sporting activities or songs, and had just two near pals — one of whom was her sister.

So when Zeager, then 14, went to the winter season official and danced with a boy for the first time, she was not guaranteed how to interpret her racing coronary heart, which ongoing to pound prolonged right after she’d returned property. “I was imagining, ‘Is this how it is to have feelings?'” Zeager, now 23, told Insider.

But the next early morning, Zeager’s “butterflies” had morphed into this sort of a deep fatigue and heaviness in her arm that she struggled to put on her shirt. When she attempted to wander to her parents’ bed room for assistance, her vision narrowed, her ear flooded with warmth, and she collapsed.

“Right before I realized it, I was on the ground,” Zeager stated. “It felt like an elephant was on my upper body.”

Zeager later figured out she’d endured a coronary heart attack, and is now sharing her story as a volunteer for the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women “Genuine Females” marketing campaign. She would like other other youthful gals to know the indications of a coronary heart assault, and to communicate up when they know a little something is wrong.

A medical doctor at the hospital informed Zeager it was just ‘teenage anxiety’

The morning just after the dance in 2014, Zeager’s father, a pharmacist, saw her on the ground and asked if the family wanted to go to the medical center as an alternative of her brother’s birthday get together, as prepared. “I have no notion what’s likely on, but I consider we do,” she reported.

At the medical center, Zeager said she was not addressed like another person in an unexpected emergency condition. She waited several hours to be seen and developed “an intense burning suffering” in her higher arm, but wasn’t provided agony medication. She now understands arm suffering is normally a sign of coronary heart attacks in women of all ages.

Story carries on

Finally, a doctor explained to Zeager she possible had “teenage stress.”

“It genuinely broke me to hear that simply because I felt embarrassed that my full family was there, and I was ruining my brother’s birthday get-jointly,” Zeager claimed.

Nevertheless, the doctor suggested Zeager pay a visit to a children’s clinic just to be secure. When there, she learned tests had discovered a blockage in or all-around her coronary heart, and that she required to undertake a cardiac catheterization technique to id the location of the clot.

When Zeager awoke from the surgical procedures, a lot more than 12 several hours just after demonstrating up at the 1st healthcare facility, she noticed her sister crying. “You experienced a heart attack,” her sister claimed.

Zeager figured out she experienced ‘sticky’ blood and a hole in her coronary heart

Later on tests exposed Zeager experienced elevated lipoprotein A, which signifies her purple blood cells are “extra sticky,” main to a blood clot. She was also born with a hole in her heart, known as patent foramen ovale (PFO), which authorized the clot to get lodged in her coronary artery, triggering the coronary heart assault.

Whilst about 1 in 4 people have PFO, it alone typically doesn’t bring about any troubles, in accordance to the Mayo Clinic. But for Zeager, the defect in mixture with higher lipoprotein A stages — some thing that won’t be able to be controlled by means of diet and work out — was harmful.

Zeager’s treatment method involved surgical procedures to repair service the hole, 6 months on blood thinners, and a many-7 days very long hospital stay.

Cierra Zeagler in hospital

Zeager underwent open heart operation in February 2021 to repair service a leaky valve.Courtesy of Cierra Zeagler

About 7 years later, Zeager professional intense exhaustion, but chalked it up to the tension of the COVID-19 pandemic or planning her wedding ceremony. But a cardiologist explained to her she essential open up-heart surgery to maintenance a leaky coronary heart valve that had been destroyed during the coronary heart attack.

Zeager underwent the surgical treatment in February 2021, just a few months just after her marriage ceremony. The psychological restoration was the hardest section, she mentioned.

“You happen to be swollen, you’re bruised, you never come to feel like on your own, you might be on all sorts of painkillers, and you might be just barely building it as a result of each individual day,” she said. Even though she’s typically a positive particular person, she stated, “In that moment, I was not beneficial. I was not delighted.”

Due to the fact then, Zeager, now a human resources professional in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, maintains a balanced lifestyle, but continue to has an “ejection portion” — a measure of coronary heart toughness — all around 44%. A nutritious vary is 50% to 70%, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

That might suggest she’ll be not able to properly have a being pregnant. “Obtaining that taken away from you as a woman is very, incredibly tricky,” she explained.

But Zeager finds consolation in spreading her message. “Listen to your human body, advocate for yourself, and try out to obtain the silver lining,” she explained. “It truly is cliche, but it’s so accurate.”

Read through the original write-up on Insider

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