ST. LOUIS — Laura Weaver is lending her voice and telling her personal story to help other women.
“There’s a possibility that I wouldn’t be here to have this conversation,” she told 5 On Your Side.
When she was 37 years old, Weaver got the scare of her life. It happened while she was taking part in a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. “I ran a 5K, had a little bit of chest tightness in the beginning but I didn’t really think a lot about it,” she said.
But her thoughts about the incident changed when she had more symptoms a couple of days later.
“I started having like a strange feeling. Heaviness in my throat. A little bit of dizziness," Weaver said.
“When something doesn’t feel right, there’s a good chance something is not right,” Chip Phelan with SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital said.
Weaver decided to go to the emergency room at SSM Health DePaul Hospital. But initial tests did not show anything. “Everything looked completely normal,” she said.
It isn’t uncommon for women having potential heart issues to not show signs of a problem. “Women can present challenging when they do come to the ER and often times they do not have traditional symptoms,” said Phelan.
But because there is heart disease in Weaver’s family history, doctors went a step further. They took to a cardiac catheterization suite at the hospital. It was there that they discovered the problem.
“Found an 80% blockage in my LAD.,” she said.
The LAD, or left anterior descending artery, carries almost 50% of the blood carried by the coronary circulation, according to the National Library of Medicine.
In the suite, doctors used modern technology to fix her heart. “It all happens in these arenas with our interventional cardiologist. 10 years ago some of this stuff that we do now was not even possible then,” said Phelan.
The doctors work fast in the suite because time is of the essence. “The faster that you can get these patients stented and get that blood going back to where it belongs, the less likely they are to have permanent damage of their heart,” Phelan said.
“I stayed at the hospital overnight so they could observe me and I was discharged,” said Weaver.
She’s been doing much better ever since. “Life is great,” she said.
“Sass is back. Heart health is back. She’s doing great,” Phelan said.
Weaver now works at SSM Health St Joseph Hospital as a regulatory specialist.
She also wants to advocate for women to listen their bodies and to be heart conscience. “I hope one day to branch out into a public health center and do some community outreach about heart disease,” she said.
She believes telling her journey could help save someone else’s life. “I often have those moments where I think 'wow, I’m really fortunate that I had the outcome that I did,'” she said.
If you want to learn more about heart health, check out the American Heart Association.