Patient Searches for Answer – Finds it at Jefferson Heart Institute

WomenHeartResize_Dec15In 2010, Christine Truitt didn’t feel quite right. She didn’t know what was wrong, but her intuition was telling her that something was off with her health.

She had no appetite and lost over 50 pounds over six months. Christine didn’t have sharp chest pain or shortness of breath. But what she remembers most is being tired, so tired.

In her quest to find out what was wrong, she visited three different hospitals – all of which sent her home with no answers. She even consulted with a cardiologist because of a strong family history of heart disease, but passed the stress test. Some of her family and friends thought that she might be having panic attacks.

“I was working in center city one day when a feeling came over me.” said Christine. “I was exhausted. I went to the Jefferson emergency room.”

While at Jefferson, Christine had a coronary CT angiography of the heart arteries. This was recommended because she was having atypical symptoms and had at least two negative stress tests elsewhere. The text uncovered four blockages in her heart arteries. If the blockages had not been found, she could have had a heart attack.

“I was a walking time bomb.” she said.

The next day, after being admitted to Jefferson, Christine’s doctors performed a diagnostic cardiac catheterization. This was to confirm the blockages found during the CT and to see if stenting, which props open the arteries, was an option.

Unfortunately, stenting was not recommended because the cardiac catheterization confirmed four blockages. Christine needed quadruple bypass, open-heart surgery.

“I was so scared.” said Christine. “But the doctors reassured me. I knew I had the best team.”

Today, Christine is doing well. She continues to eat right, exercise and follow up with Danielle Duffy, M.D., F.A.C.C., at the Jefferson Heart Institute every six months.

Christine encourages women to listen to their bodies. Heart disease may present with different symptoms in women.

“I tell my friends, if you have pain, start losing weight or when something changes get it checked out and don’t let them tell you it’s nothing.” she said.

Dr. Duffy encourages women to be aware of less traditional symptoms and risk factors for heart disease.

“As evidenced by Christine’s story, women can present with less traditional symptoms of heart disease, including chest pain that may feel more like indigestion, exertional shortness of breath without chest pain, jaw or arm discomfort that doesn’t have an obvious muscular cause and/or profound fatigue. For all women, it is important to be proactive in your health and to have any concerning symptoms evaluated. It is also important to be proactive if you have a very strong family history of heart disease and to always lead a heart-healthy lifestyle.” she said.

“I am a miracle walking.” said Christine. “I am here by the grace of God, and these doctors that he put here.”

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