Patient Stories

Women Share Stories of Survival After Experiencing Life-Threatening Heart Events

Heart disease is a very real and life-threatening problem for women. In fact, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, claiming more lives than all cancers combined. Because women can experience symptoms that are quite different from men, which may not easily be recognized as symptoms of a heart attack or other cardiac event, it is important that women understand not only their risk factors, but also learn how to recognize the signs – because getting immediate medical attention after a heart event is crucial.

The following stories are stories of survival. These women came to University Hospitals for help when the unthinkable happened to them; many of them had no idea that they were even at risk for a heart disease. Find out about the symptoms these women experienced, and about the life-saving treatment they received through University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute that led them down the road to recovery.

Liz’s Story as featured in the February 2015 issue of Cleveland Magazine

It was Mother’s Day 2014, and Gary Wagner was doing some yard work. “I came in because I was not feeling well,” Gary recalls. “I had a lot of back pain. I went upstairs to the bathroom to get in the Jacuzzi. Liz heard me fall.” Liz, Gary’s wife, picks up the story from here. Read more

Megan’s Story as featured in the February 2015 issue of Cleveland Magazine

Megan Roberts was in her second day back to work at Cline Plumbing after seven weeks off with her newborn son, her third child. “I had chest pains,” she recalls of the September day in 2015, “and my boss took me to the local ER.” From there she was sent via ambulance to Aultman Hospital in Millersburg. “I had a heart catheterization done and my left artery has dissected. I was rushed to the OR and they did a double bypass.” Read more

Ruth’s Story as featured in the February 2015 issue of Cleveland Magazine

Ruth Wright went into heart failure on the morning of her daughter’s wedding in June 2015. “I woke up and I couldn’t breathe,” she remembers. “I had an appointment with my primary care doctor on the morning of the wedding because I just wasn’t feeling good. I had cold symptoms. My appointment was at noon, but I woke up at four with shortness of breath that kept getting worse. I called to let everyone know I was going to the hospital and I drove myself to University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center.” Read more

Linda's Story

Linda Riley knew something was wrong; she just didn’t know what. “I kept feeling pressure, heaviness, like I couldn’t breathe, like I was smothering,” remembers the 66-year-old. She says she was concerned she was having panic attacks due to anxiety. Learn more

Amy'’s Story

Amy Byrnes had a busy couple of days in August of 2014. She flew in from California to Cleveland to attend a family reunion with her sister. “They said I had a good time, but I don’t remember anything,” says Byrnes. That’s because two days after the reunion on August 4, Byrnes had a cardiac arrest. Learn more

Christine’s Story

On the morning of August 7, Christine Pepoy picked up three friends and began driving to a golf outing at Pleasant Hill Golf Course in Chardon. At one point their conversation turned to guardian angels. Shortly thereafter, Pepoy needed the help of her own guardian angels when she collapsed as she walked to the registration table. Learn more

Charlotte’s Story

Charlotte Chambliss never wondered why she was tired and occasionally short of breath – the reasons seemed obvious. She was 55 years old, a full-time cosmetologist who helped care for her elderly mother. Yes, she was a former smoker. But she’d quit 11 years ago. Yes, she had high blood pressure, but she was taking medication to manage it. Although she didn’t exercise regularly, she ate right and was always on her feet, both at home and at work. Learn more

Donna’s Story

Donna’s mother had cardiovascular disease, including an enlarged heart, so she wasn’t surprised to learn that she had likely inherited this condition. Donna began to notice that she was often becoming short of breath. Learn more

Helen’s Story

Heart failure doesn’t mean you’ve run out of options – even in your late 80s. Helen Miller, a University Hospitals patient, turned a diagnosis of heart failure into a success. Learn more

Henrietta’s Story

On the evening of January 8, 2012, Henrietta Henderson’s life changed forever. She was visiting at her boyfriend’s house for an evening of cards with friends and family. But as the night was winding down and she was getting ready to leave, she couldn’t shake the feeling of a heavy burp. Learn more

Rose’s Story

Rose Booth developed an abdominal aortic aneurysm and had been living with it since 2000. The bulging area in the lower part of her aorta, which is the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the body, measured 2.8 centimeters in diameter. It caused backaches for her now and then, but after watching her husband go through a brain aneurysm and a subsequent 40-day hospital stay, Booth, 73, was content living with the condition. Learn more

Sarah’s Story as featured in the February 2014 issue of Cleveland Magazine

When Sarah Seals started to feel out of breath just walking up a flight of stairs, she knew something was wrong. Now, after valve replacement surgery and cardiac rehab at University Hospitals, Sarah says she feels better than ever and is back to living an active lifestyle. Read more.

Dana’s Story as featured in the February 2014 issue of Cleveland Magazine

Dana Morris was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, and after undergoing chemotherapy, she is now considered cured. However, the chemo that cured her cancer also has the potential to cause heart problems. Find out more about the onco-cardiology program at UH and its role in monitoring the heart health of cancer patients. Read more.

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