One week later, Midlands woman realizes she had a heart attack. - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

One week later, Midlands woman realizes she had a heart attack. Do you know the signs?

(Source: WISTV) (Source: WISTV)
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

If you had to recognize the signs of a heart attack, could you? For women, sometimes it's not as obvious. The American Heart Association recognizes February as American Heart Month and the emphasis is on education and experts want you to be hyperaware.

Josephine (“Jo”) Wigfall is a 57-year-old fashion queen.

“I like strutting it,” Wigfall said. “You know when you put stuff on you want to feel good about yourself.”

She makes several of her own dresses… but these creations aren’t solely from a creative soul. They come from a place of necessity.

“With a dress, all I need to do is design something I can button up around this driveline,” she said.

That “driveline” is a cord that connects to a battery that helps her heart pump blood throughout her body. The “battery” is a device called an LVAD – or Left Ventricular Assist Device. Wigfall had surgery to implant the device after a heart attack in 2016. She received the LVAD in April of 2017.

"I thought my life was over,” said Wigfall. “But it was truly the beginning because for whatever reason G-d allowed me to go through this.”

What’s truly remarkable about her story is not that she had the heart attack, but the fact that she didn’t even know she had one. Wigfall was a nurse and worked the weekend she had the heart attack. She thought she was just fatigued and short of breath. In reality, she was having a massive heart attack and had significant coronary disease.

Dr. Patrick McCann, a Palmetto Health cardiologist and one of Wigfall’s physicians, immediately treated her. He realized she was a good candidate for an LVAD when traditional medication wasn’t helping her get any better. He wants every woman to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack because they can present differently in women.

“When symptoms are present don’t ignore them,” Dr. McCann said. “Get in and get seen by a doctor don’t blow them off as ‘ you may be getting older’ or ‘just being out of shape.’ When you’re having a sort of symptoms that something that needs to be addressed.”

According to the American Heart Association, signs and symptoms of a heart attack in a woman include: uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or fullness in the chest and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach. A patient may present with shortness of breath (with or without chest pain) and cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness. The takeaway – every heart attack isn’t going to be a “clutch your chest and fall down” type presentation.

Wigfall knows she got lucky and has had an amazing support system since her surgery. She was diagnosed with uterine cancer shortly after receiving her LVAD (which she has since been treated for and kicked), so she will have to wait a couple more years for a heart transplant.

She cautions every woman to learn the signs and consult your doctor.

"Don't take for granted that it's indigestion or you've overworked,” she said. “Especially if you're smoking… maybe you think that it's on the cigarettes. But, if you have an abnormal shortness of breath, go have yourself checked out.”

For more information about heart failure, attacks, and disease, go to the American Heart Association's website

Copyright 2018 WIS. All rights reserved. 

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Police say teen who searched for missing pal was his killer

    Police say teen who searched for missing pal was his killer

    Thursday, April 19 2018 4:56 PM EDT2018-04-19 20:56:14 GMT
    Friday, April 20 2018 3:01 AM EDT2018-04-20 07:01:15 GMT
    (AP Photo/Mike Balsamo). Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. John Corina, left, speaks next to Deputy Joana Warren outside of the sheriff's homicide bureau office in Monterey Park, Calif., Thursday, April 19, 2018. Los Angeles County sheriff's investigato...(AP Photo/Mike Balsamo). Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. John Corina, left, speaks next to Deputy Joana Warren outside of the sheriff's homicide bureau office in Monterey Park, Calif., Thursday, April 19, 2018. Los Angeles County sheriff's investigato...
    Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators say a 16-year-old who was part of a search party looking for a missing high school sports star led the group to discover the boy's body but investigators suspect he was...More >>
    Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators say a 16-year-old who was part of a search party looking for a missing high school sports star led the group to discover the boy's body but investigators suspect he was the person who fatally stabbed him.More >>
  • South Carolina news on WIStv.comNEWSMore>>

  • Barbara Bush believed literacy could cure other ills

    Barbara Bush believed literacy could cure other ills

    Friday, April 20 2018 1:33 AM EDT2018-04-20 05:33:17 GMT
    Friday, April 20 2018 3:03 AM EDT2018-04-20 07:03:28 GMT
    (AP Photo/Luc Novovitch, File). FILE - In this May 16, 1994 file photo, former first lady Barbara Bush reads to a group of children at the Clinton Family Inn, a shelter run by Homes for the Homeless in New York. Promoting literacy was a longtime cause ...(AP Photo/Luc Novovitch, File). FILE - In this May 16, 1994 file photo, former first lady Barbara Bush reads to a group of children at the Clinton Family Inn, a shelter run by Homes for the Homeless in New York. Promoting literacy was a longtime cause ...

    Barbara Bush came up with the idea of focusing on literacy as first lady during a jog in 1978, the year her husband considered his first run for president.

    More >>

    Barbara Bush came up with the idea of focusing on literacy as first lady during a jog in 1978, the year her husband considered his first run for president.

    More >>
  • Kushner Cos. subpoenaed by feds after AP report

    Kushner Cos. subpoenaed by feds after AP report

    Thursday, April 19 2018 11:12 PM EDT2018-04-20 03:12:45 GMT
    Friday, April 20 2018 3:03 AM EDT2018-04-20 07:03:02 GMT
    The Kushner Cos. is confirming it was subpoenaed by federal prosecutors for information related to documents about its buildings in New York City. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)The Kushner Cos. is confirming it was subpoenaed by federal prosecutors for information related to documents about its buildings in New York City. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    The Kushner Cos. is confirming it was subpoenaed by federal prosecutors for information related to documents about its buildings in New York City. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)The Kushner Cos. is confirming it was subpoenaed by federal prosecutors for information related to documents about its buildings in New York City. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    The Kushner Cos. is confirming it was subpoenaed by federal prosecutors for information related to an Associated Press report that the company filed dozens of false documents about its buildings in New York City.

    More >>

    The Kushner Cos. is confirming it was subpoenaed by federal prosecutors for information related to an Associated Press report that the company filed dozens of false documents about its buildings in New York City.

    More >>
  • Southwest Airlines sought more time for engine inspections

    Southwest Airlines sought more time for engine inspections

    Thursday, April 19 2018 1:02 AM EDT2018-04-19 05:02:22 GMT
    Friday, April 20 2018 3:00 AM EDT2018-04-20 07:00:40 GMT
    (NTSB via AP). National Transportation Safety Board investigators examine damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. The Southwes...(NTSB via AP). National Transportation Safety Board investigators examine damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. The Southwes...

    The Federal Aviation Administration's announcement late Wednesday comes nearly a year after the engine's manufacturer recommended the additional inspections, and a month after European regulators ordered their airlines to do the work.

    More >>

    The Federal Aviation Administration's announcement late Wednesday comes nearly a year after the engine's manufacturer recommended the additional inspections, and a month after European regulators ordered their airlines to do the work.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly