SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Studies show 48 million American women already have or are at risk for heart disease. The diagnosis can be frightening, confusing and even isolating.
It’s common for anyone who survived a heart attack to become depressed — especially for women. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller took a closer look at the phenomena with the help of a heart specialist and a heart attack survivor from Glenburn Township, Lackawanna County.
“I could feel a little pressure but I thought, oh, maybe it will pass.” What 71-year-old Kathleen Farley was actually experiencing in March 2018 was her second heart attack in as many years. The hospital staff had to use a defibrillator to restart her heart. “Nine times,” she said. “But I’m here and I’m happy to be here.”
Commonwealth Health Interventional Cardiologist Deepika Kalisetti, MD said, “It takes a lot out of them to get back to their normal self.” Dr. Kalisetti referred to more than post heart attack blues. Researchers say female heart attack survivors often suffer poorer physical and mental function, worse physical limitations and a lower quality of life. Clearing those hurdles begins with good post-care follow-up. “The first six months I make sure they are seen pretty much frequently in the office so that we know what’s going on with them.”
While making sure patients like Kathleen are taking their necessary post heart attack medication, it also means helping them return to their normal lifestyle. Dr. Kalisetti said, “They’re afraid to get back to what they can be so encouragement I think helps a lot.” When asked if this has helped in Kathleen’s case, Dr. Kalisetti said, “I would think so and she’s taking very good care of herself.”
Kathleen watches what she eats and goes to cardiac rehab. “I go twice a week,” she said. The workouts are more than just physically beneficial according to Dr. Kalisetti. “It’s about giving her confidence that she can do what she wants to do without everybody else watching her.”
A prescription for motivation patients like Kathleen need. “Just to keep on going for my family. Just to be here. Enjoy all of the special events,” said the Glenburn Township woman.
Kathleen says what’s really helped her is having a supportive family. If you or a woman you know is struggling with post-heart attack issues, talk to your medical doctor, consult with a counselor or psychologist and consider joining a support group. Click here for more recommendations.