Mellanie True Hills shares her atrial fibrillation story and how she got through this heart disease.
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I am Mellanie True Hills. I am the CEO of the American Foundation for Women’s Health and of a non-profit website stopafib.org for atrial fibrillation patients. I am a heart disease survivor. About four years ago I was a hi-tech road warrior traveling almost all the time, and one evening as I got off a plane, I realized that I could barely breathe. I thought back, I had read a USA Today article about women and heart disease and that women have different heart attack symptoms from men, and I recognized that I had two of those symptoms. Long story short, it wasn’t a heart attack, but it was a 95% blockage in a major coronary artery. So they took me into the operating room to open up the artery and to give me a stent and blown angioplasty in the stent. As I was on the operating table and they were opening, they were putting in the stent and they were opening up the blood vessel, I could hear going on around me a little bit of a frantic tone. The doctor was saying, “It’s too short, get a longer guide wire, get a longer guide wire.” They got a longer guide wire but the doctor was still struggling. My blockage was at a juncture and putting in the stent in one side was cutting off blood flow to the other, and they almost lost me on the operating table. I knew from getting a second chance, that there was something that I needed to do. So I started researching and I learned that heart disease is the number one killer of women and stroke is number three and that we lose more women to heart attacks than men, and most women think that breast cancer is our number one issue but it’s not. When you take heart disease and stroke together, they kill ten times more women than breast cancer and twice all cancers combined. So I decided to use my second chance to tell women about their risk of heart disease and stroke, and more importantly what they could do so they could avoid what I have been through. So I moved on to sharing the message full time to telling women about heart disease. So I speak at American Heart Association, Go Red For Women luncheons, speak at women’s heart health events for hospitals, continue to write, to speak and to spread the word, and along the way I had the opportunity to write a book, A Woman’s Guide to Saving Her Own Life – The Heart Program for Health and Longevity, and the goal of that, I started out with a goal of saving 100,000 women. I have now changed, braced my sights a bit, and by the time my days on this earth are through, I want to have impacted the lives of five million women through speeches, through books, through interviews, and it's really important that we save women, we save women’s lives. Women don’t have to go through what I have been through, and I want to do everything I can to keep them from having to go through it.