Guts to Glory
Avid Runner Adds Walking
After Triple Bypass
Kathy Ryan was in peak physical condition going into her 17th Hood to Coast Relay. At 66 years old, she was an accomplished athlete, already completing 75 marathons in 45 different states.
On August 25, 2007, Kathy began her third leg in the 197-mile relay but suddenly collapsed and stopped breathing. While lying on the pavement, two runners from another team jumped out of their van and immediately began CPR. After eight long minutes, Kathy finally took in air on her own.
Kathy was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital and underwent a triple bypass surgery for a heart arrhythmia.
“I was so fortunate to have two runners jump out of their van, direct traffic, and perform CPR on me” says Kathy. “Both runners received heroic awards from the American Heart Association for saving my life. Learn CPR — you never know when you might need to respond.”
Unwilling to be defeated by the No. 1 killer of men and women, Kathy ran the Hood to Coast the two years following her attack and is currently training for a marathon in San Francisco this fall. From there, Kathy plans to complete her quest to run a marathon in every state by traveling to the final five states — all with the help of her doctors who helped develop a method that combines running and walking in order to keep her heart rate at a safe pace.
This year, Kathy and her running team, Heart N Sole, will be at the 2010 Greater Portland Start! Heart and Stroke Walk to raise awareness and funds to fight heart disease and stroke. Kathy is also a 2010 Go Red For Women ambassador, working tirelessly to spread the message about heart disease and stroke in women. One of Kathy’s key messages is to know your numbers. “You should have a list of your most recent readings of your blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and heart rate. You should also have a list of the medicines you are currently taking,” she says.
Please join us and Kathy on future Start! Heart and Stroke Walks. The funds raised from these events make a difference in our local community and help fund research, advocacy, and the kind of education that helped save Kathy’s life.
Know the Warning Signs of a Heart Attack or Stroke
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense — the “movie heart attack,” where no one doubts what’s happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:
Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort. Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.
As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Learn the signs, but remember this: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out (tell a doctor about your symptoms). Minutes matter! Fast action can save lives — maybe your own.
Don’t wait more than five minutes to call 9-1-1. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive — up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too.
If you or someone with you has one or more of these signs, don’t delay!
• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
• Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
Immediately call 9-1-1. Also, check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared. It’s very important to take immediate action. If given within three hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.