Topeka woman survives massive heart attack, warns others not to ‘ignore the signs’

Health Check

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A Topeka woman is thankful to be alive today after suffering a massive heart attack on a ski trip in Missouri.

Kelly Kleiner’s symptoms started when her husband fell on the slopes.

“The last time we went down the hill and he fell, I was trying to pick him up and my arm felt like it had gotten out of it’s socket,” said Kleiner. “We went into the lodge for supper and we were waiting in line, and I said I am not feeling well, and I am going to go to the bathroom.”

When medical help arrived, Kleiner said they couldn’t find a strong pulse. Dr. Thomas Doyle, her cardiologist from the Cotton O’Neil Heart Center said, “she had developed a blocked artery and was having a massive heart attack.”

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease and stroke are the number one killers of women.

“It’s nicknamed the widow-maker, because not too many people survive,” said Kleiner. “They called it a 100 percent blockage.”

After going to a nearby hospital in Atchison, she was life-flighted to Topeka.

“They did two stents, and it was about 4 and a half hours long from when I had the pain to when they got the stents in,” said Kleiner. “I didn’t realize how bad it was. I had a lot of damage to the heart muscle, because of how long it took. So if I had known in the beginning that it was heart related, and we were quicker, we could have saved some of that.”

That’s why doctors say knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack is critical.

“More often, women will have atypical symptoms,” said Doyle. “So sudden onset of fatigue or shortness of breath, or back discomfort between their shoulder blades, or nausea.”

Kleiner now has an implanted defibrillator and pacemaker. About two thirds of her heart muscle is dead, but she is making the most of the heart she has left.

“Take care of your body,” said Kleiner. “They did say that is why I survived, because my other arteries were great. So take care of your body and know the signs, don’t ignore the signs!”

For more information on Heart Disease symptoms and treatment options, visit: ttps://www.heart.org/en/about-us/heart-attack-and-stroke-symptoms

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