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Avera Medical Minute: Hecla woman describes how a Heart Smart screening could have prevented her heart attack

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 12:09 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Any farmer can tell you the work is demanding.

Last fall, Diane Mitchell had put in a long day on the farm near Hecla.

“We’d been harvesting corn, all day long. I didn’t feel good but I thought I’m just tired,” said Diane.

In the middle of the night, she had a health crisis.

“I knew it was a heart attack. It felt like someone was stomping on my chest and I couldn’t breathe. I collapsed. My husband called 911,” said Diane.

She was given a one in five chance of recovery. The family was called in to watch and wait. Avera Cardiologist Dr. Susheel Gundewar took life-saving measures.

“It was a very extensive heart attack, so we had to suck out all the clots from the blood vessel, and we ended up putting in multiple stents to open up the blood vessel,” said Dr. Gundewar.

Amazingly, Diane beat the odds and recovered. If they could have turned back time, Dr. Gundewar would have suggested a Heart Smart screening for Diane at Avera St. Luke’s in Aberdeen.

“Heart smart is a screening test for the heart, and it helps us diagnose coronary artery disease. To get a sense of what their arteries look like and how good the blood flow to the heart is,” said Gundewar.

Having the screening results could have made a difference.

“It creeps up on you so slowly, the symptoms just become part of your life, you just ignore them,” said Diane.

“The idea is that it’s always easier to prevent the problem than to treat it once it’s occurred,” said Dr. Gundewar.

When a heart or circulation problem is found before a heart attack or stroke, preventative measures can be taken.

“We would have picked up the blockage that she had and we could have treated it before,” said Dr. Gundewar.

And the notion that women have fewer heart attacks than men can be misleading.

“You reach menopause and you’re postmenopausal, the risk becomes pretty much the same. So it is a little bit of a myth that this occurs more in men than women,” said Dr. Gundewar.

Diane has follow-up care in Aberdeen.

“The staff at Dr. Gundewar’s office has been super great. You know they know you would like a person rather than they have to read your chart to see now why are you here,” said Diane.

Her focus on a healthy lifestyle ensures she can continue living her best life.

“It’s something that you will live with the rest of your life, and hopefully if you do it properly, you’ll have a lot of years to live with it,” said Diane.

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