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Heart attack survivor promotes Heart Health Month

Albany, GA

The Americus Times-Recorder
Emily Crenshaw

AMERICUS — In June 2009, what started out as any other Sunday morning for Laura Cheek quickly turned into a life or death situation. Luckily, Cheek is a nurse at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center (PSMC), so she knew just what to do when she began having symptoms of a heart attack.

“I was getting ready for Sunday morning church when I started having crushing chest pain and jaw pain,” she said. “It was severe, so I sat down. I thought it was going to go away, but it didn’t. I waited one minute, then told my husband.”

Because Cheek is a nurse, she felt she knew what it was already. Cheek took an aspirin and waited five minutes, but the pain did not subside. Her husband drove her to the ER. She reflects that not calling an ambulance was a mistake; however, she lives in close proximity to the hospital.

Cheek has nothing but praise for her co-workers at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center. Upon arrival, she told them she was having chest pains. She was hooked to an EKG, and they administered a drug to dissolve the clot.

“It’s amazing how fast I was treated,” she marvels. “I felt nothing but calm. I was comfortable, never afraid.”

PSMC had Cheek shipped to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany within 30 minutes of arrival time at the ER. However, it wasn’t just the efficient and caring staff that helped her recover quickly.

“News travels fast. It occurred before church. I was lifted up in prayer in churches all over town,” she says.

Cheek says that if a person thinks they are having a heart attack or is experiencing heart attack symptoms, both the most common and the most dangerous thing to do is deny that there is a problem.

“The earlier you receive treatment, the more successful it will be,” she says.

Waiting too long could result in permanent heart damage.

“Womens’ symptoms for heart attacks aren’t as widely known as men’s symptoms,” Cheek states.

She goes on to explains how crucial it is for women to educate themselves on what they may experience while suffering a heart attack. While heredity is greatly involved as a risk factor, Cheek says that there are things you can control. She stresses the importance of managing stress, monitoring blood pressure, taking medication correctly and exercising.

Today, Cheek is doing remarkably well. She speaks of her experience with much gratitude to all of the nurses and hospital staff involved and much appreciation for the community for their prayer and support.

“It’s amazing,” she remarks, “the level of peace that God can give you.”

Phoebe is celebrating Heart Health Month this February with a number of activities, including free blood pressure checks. For a full list of activities click here.

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