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Kathy Molinaro, of Macomb, a 2019 Epic Heart Hero, shares her story:

I certainly don’t feel like a “Heart Hero,” but I want to share my experience so other women can be aware of symptoms, and take advantage of the wonderful life-saving care that’s now available.

I was in my late 20s when my OB/GYN discovered an arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) during a regular annual visit.  He followed it himself for several years, and was quite cautious when I delivered my daughter at 31, using a full delivery room rather than a birthing room “just in case.”

As the arrhythmia worsened, he referred me to a cardiologist for further testing at what was then Mt. Clemens General Hospital.  After a few years and a more prevalent irregular heartbeat, I was referred to Royal Oak Beaumont where Dr. William O’Neal first used medications to help control my heart rate and flutters.  

By then, my heart was working so hard it became enlarged and I was experiencing bigeminy leading to congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy.  I was getting tired out just climbing a flight of stairs with my then-teenage daughter at the mall.

Dr. James Goldstein of Academic Heart at Beaumont suggested I see one of their recently attained specialists – Dr. David Haines, a Cardiac Electrophysiologist.  So at the age of 51, I had a successful cardiac ablation. Afterward, my heart function improved dramatically – my ejection fraction went from about 35% to a near normal 45%.

It’s been about 17 years since that ablation.  I’m 68 years old and have been working out a few times each week with my daughter, a personal trainer, for about 7 years.  I completed my first 5K in the Spring of 2018, and have done three more since. I don’t claim to RUN the whole time for sure — I do short intervals — but what a difference from barely being able to climb one flight of mall steps!

For this I will ALWAYS be grateful to my doctors…Drabecki, O’Neal, Goldstein, Haines…and of course my trainer, Sarah, of  Inner Athlete Fitness, who was instrumental in reconditioning me.  

I am truly BLESSED to have had such excellent, cutting-edge care all along the way.  My dad was not quite as fortunate. He died of a massive heart attack at the age of 39 in 1956 when I was just 5. That was a time when far less was known about heart conditions, especially as they affect women, and when diagnostics were fairly unavailable.  So ladies: Pay attention to your heart! Get regular checkups, “listen to your heart” and its rhythm. Heart issues occur in women too, and there is lots of help out there. The heart you save could be YOURS!