Nikki Gibson saw how her mother was suffering – the pain in the neck and chest, the nausea – and knew that Betty Jean Harris was having a heart attack. She knew because she had been through it two years before.
Harris was airlifted to University Hospital, where she stood Wednesday with about 60 others wearing a red shirt that said, “Survivor.”
Without Gibson’s intervention, “I might have died,” said Harris, 61, of Edgefield, S.C.
“It helped,” said Gibson, 39, of Edgefield, who was only 35 years old when her heart attack happened.
The old myth that cardiovascular disease “is not an equal opportunity threat” has been thoroughly disproven, cardiologist Mac Bowman said. It is the No. 1 cause of death and disability in women but they might not know it, he said.
“Not breast cancer,” Bowman said, “Not gynecological cancer.”
Bowman is part of the Heart Attack & Stroke Prevention Center at University, which is holding a series of community events to screen and educate during February, which is National Heart Month and includes Go Red for Women events Friday.
“We’re going to take the message to the community,” Bowman said.
It was not a surprise to him to see so many women among those survivors. Gibson said she knew she was at risk for a heart attack when she went to the doctor with her symptoms. Her EKG test turned out to be abnormal.
“They told me I needed to get to University and get here fast,” Gibson said.