PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philly Heart Walk is back this weekend taking aim at the leading cause of death in the United States and raising awareness about heart disease. Research shows heart disease in women remains widely underdiagnosed and under-treated and the sad reality is, it kills one American every minute.
One of the participants in this weekend’s heart walk hopes the trend changes soon.
Hope Nagy is a fitness instructor in Plymouth Meeting.
She is a mother and is in great shape, and has been all her life.
“I started to notice, like walking up the steps with my laundry basket, I was getting out of breath. And I was feeling more tired and fatigued,” Nagy said.
She was in her mid-40s at the time and went to a series of doctors trying to figure out what was wrong.
“And I’m hearing year after year after year,” Nagy said. “You look fine. Everything’s OK.”
Hope was worried because her father had a heart attack at age 43, but instead of being referred to a cardiologist, here’s what her primary did.
“She hands me a card from a psychiatrist,” Nagy said.
It’s a troubling trend. One study found that women complaining of heart symptoms are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness compared to men with identical symptoms.
“I walked around six years with a heart condition and every doctor missed it,” Nagy said.
Finally, hope found a doctor who quickly heard a heart murmur. Turns out, she had a congenital heart defect and ended up having open-heart surgery to replace a valve.
“I was lucky that the physician who heard the heart murmur picked up on it right away and saved my life,” Nagy said.
Hope is 59 now and still working out. She’s on a mission with the heart association to raise awareness for women.
“So what I learned from this is you have to be your own advocate. You know your own body better than anybody else,” Nagy said.
The heart walk kicks off on Sunday, Nov. 20 at Citizens Bank Park at 8 a.m. Click here for more information.
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