Heart attacks and women: Local woman's story highlights need for awareness

Two heart attacks—two months apart—both times, Christine Torain worked through the pain, dismissing it as indigestion.

“December of 2010 is when I had my first heart attack… I was at work, in a meeting and I had this gnawing feeling on the left side,” two months later, “I had another, while I was at work, in a meeting,” Torain said.

“In my mind, I said, this can’t be happening again,” she said.

But, a few months later, she said she had what Torain describes as “my massive heart attack.”

“It felt like I had an elephant and a building sitting in my chest,” she said.

Doctors believe her heart attacks were triggered by uncontrolled diabetes.

“I’ve had five stints and three angioplasties, and I’m only 38,” she said.

Doctors say they are seeing more cases like Torain’s because so many women don’t know the warning signs.

“You might think you’re ok, you might think oh, I’m just tired, I need to get my B12 shot, but it could be a lot more than that,” said Dr. Shawn Howell of GW Hospital.

Signs to look out for: shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness, and heart palpitations. Risk factors include: high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity and smoking.

Torain said that the worst thing you can do, is do nothing at all.

“Now I understand how to listen to my body, how to have my career, how to have my fun, but make sure they don’t cause me my life,” she said.