Outpatient Cardio Rehab Helps Jessica’s Recovery from Heart Attack

At age 31, Jessica thought the tightness in her chest was the flu at first. But when the pain escalated to an inability to catch her breath and pain in her chest, left arm, and jaw, she went to the hospital to get herself checked out. It turned out to be a heart attack.

Jessica was the typical 31 year old girl celebrating her one year wedding anniversary when the unimaginable happened, she had a heart attack. When we hear heart attack we imagine an older man, never a young, otherwise healthy girl, but the truth of the matter is heart attacks don’t discriminate. While men are more likely to suffer a heart attack, women are actually more likely to die from their first heart attack than men are. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 735,000 people experience a heart attack each year.

At first Jessica thought she was suffering from the flu when she had felt tightness in her chest on the way to work. Ten days later the tightness had escalated to the inability to catch her breath and pain in her chest, left arm, and jaw. So she went to the hospital, where tests revealed what she still can’t believe: She had been having a heart attack for 10 days. Jessica didn’t think she was at risk — she didn’t have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and her weight was in check. It was only later revealed by Jessica’s grandmother that her grandfather had suffered a similar heart attack at 38 before dying from one at 51.

Doctors put in a stent to clear a clot and gave Jessica medicine to keep her arteries healthy. To help her recovery, she completed outpatient cardiac rehab at Mount Sinai, a program that monitored her heart through safe cardiovascular exercise.

“Chest pains are a sign to seek help immediately, no matter what your age. Jessica did so just in time — but the sooner the better. Chest pressure combined with sweating and pain down the arms is a classic symptom you can’t ignore,” says Mary Ann McLaughlin, MD, Jessica’s doctor and Medical Director of the Cardiac Health Program and Co-Director of the Women's Cardiac Assessment and Risk Evaluation Program at Mount Sinai Heart.