At the time of my incident, I was 58 years old. A professional woman, in good physical health, exercised regularly, ate well, not overweight, not on any medication, and never sick.
It was May 2008, when I noticed that I experienced shortness of breath climbing hills at our golf course.
On Friday, May 23rd, 2008 I was teaching a Communication Course at our local college. As I started to deliver the afternoon component of the course I did not feel well. I experienced shortness of breath and dizziness so I sat down and passed out. The next thing I knew was someone asking me about my heart rate. It was a paramedic. My normal heart rate was usually in the 50’s and my normal Blood Pressure is below 100. This time my heart was 43, it was never that low before. I was hooked up to a heart monitor. The Paramedic told me I was in Second Degree Heart Block. Wow! I had already gone from First Degree to Second Degree Heart Block. I knew I was in trouble.
Things got worse……..
I went from Second Degree Heart Block into Complete Heart Block. I was taken to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute where I stayed from May 23- May 29th. At first, I was stabilized with a temporary Pacemaker and then I had surgery to have a permanent Pacemaker inserted to regulate my heart rate. With Heart Block, there is a problem with the electrical conduction in the heart. Initially, I had one lead inserted, but it proved insufficient as I was still experiencing symptoms of shortness of breath and dizziness. In January 2009, I had a second lead inserted. This time I improved greatly, I was symptom-free back to feeling the way I did before my incident.
I had genetic studies done at the Heart Institute to determine the cause of my Complete Heart Block. The Doctors were puzzled why I passed out and why I required a permanent pacemaker. The outcome of the study determined my Heart Block was idiopathic (no known cause).
To this day I completely depend on my pacemaker to help me function and have a normal life.
Today I am 68 years old, life for me goes on as if nothing happened, I remain as active as ever. I continue to work out on a very regular basis, golf, bike, walk, cross country ski.
Life is good, thanks to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
It gives me great pleasure to give back to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute in the capacity of supporting, educating and raising awareness for women's heart health.