My name is Peter Eidsmoe, a Physical Therapist at PT Plus’s West Bend location.
The month of February is American Heart Month. I wanted to use this month of awareness to share a personal experience showing the importance of being able to recognize early signs of heart disease, something I truly take to heart (no pun intended).
Five years ago, my mother was unfortunately a victim of an unexpected Myocardial Infarction or “Heart attack”. Little did my family or I know, this was something building over time. However, looking back closely there were some signs that could have hinted towards early intervention to be taken.
I first want to stress that every individual with heart disease presents symptoms differently, if symptomatic at all, but especially in females. Shortness of breath is likely the most important warning symptom of active heart disease. My mom had a history of having asthma for years though, occasional shortness of breath moments was nothing new for her. However, looking back closer she did have more episodes of it with shorter durations of walking, stairs even sitting over the last 6 months in addition to unexplained sweating with lighter activities. She complained of throat pain and at one point saw an ENT, who could not find a legitimate reason for it.
She also experienced lingering upper back and neck pain that would not change despite interventions I would give as a Physical Therapist. At one point, I even recommended her seeing her primary care physician (not even thinking about heart disease as a cause) due to her symptoms being out of the ordinary for a period of time. Unfortunately, she never got the opportunity to schedule an appointment, passing away shortly after this.
Naturally after the fact, it’s easy to ask yourself “How did I miss this?”. As I mentioned earlier, every individual shows symptoms differently. These symptoms did not all happen in a week, they were gradual over the course of months to a year. Her blood pressure was normal, she had asthma, her previous doctor visits never picked up on anything abnormal. It’s no one's fault but this is why it is so important to have a basic understanding of recognition of heart disease and proactive ways to improve heart health.
My mom, like so many other mothers and loved ones around the world, have sadly shared the same experience. I hope anyone reading this can use my experience for someone they know or even for themselves, but at the very least encourage you to engage in healthy lifestyle changes for the better of everyone.