It’s something Renee Goldberg never thought would happen to her. The avid cyclist and mountain biker was riding to see her husband race in Boulder six months ago when suddenly she didn’t feel well.
“I felt really fatigued, instantly,” said the 44-year-old who described a pain in her chest. At first, she thought the backpack she was wearing was too heavy. But, as she arrived at the race and began walking towards paramedics after taking a few minutes to sit down, she remembered a commercial that had played many times as her laptop was on a live feed of the 9NEWS morning show.
“(I thought) Maybe this is what they’re talking about—a heart attack,” she said of the public service announcement by the American Heart Association.
The ad features a woman breaking through ceilings to symbolize the progress that women have made. But the commercial also points out that women continue to create statistics in an area that’s not beneficial: heart attacks.
“One in three women die of heart disease and stroke,” the screen reads over the image of a woman collapsed in her office.
The startling image stuck with Renee, and caused her to take her symptoms seriously.
“Instantly I remembered the PSA,” Goldberg said. “I thought, oh my God, I’m over 40. What if I’m having a heart attack?”
She was right. Paramedics told her husband to take her to the emergency room. Renee had suffered from a rare occurrence known as Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD).
“It happens most commonly with women who are active, 42 is the average age,” said Goldberg, noting that oftentimes the women are perfectly healthy otherwise.
“It has to do with the small tear... within the layers of the arteries,” said heart failure cardiologist and American Heart Association volunteer Dr. Natasha Altman.
She says, often, women wait longer than men to seek help for potential heart attack symptoms which can seem very subtle and can be confused with other illnesses.
“Women can have symptoms that feel like indigestion with no real other symptoms. Sometimes they’ll just get isolated arm pain or jaw pain,” Altman said.
Altman says it’s important for women to be familiar with basic health information like their blood pressure and blood sugar levels. They should also take any symptoms seriously. It’s advice with which Goldberg agrees.
“Go get checked out. I can't stress it enough. Trust your gut,” she said.
She’s grateful for the PSA that conveyed a much more powerful message than even she thought.
“You know how things are coming in subconsciously? I think that was one of those situations,” she said.