Women share survival stories from the heart

PLATTSBURGH - Though their stories are different, the tie that binds Stephanie Orsmby and Ginger Zimmerman is that they never saw coming the serious heart problems they one day encountered.

During the annual Go Red for Women dinner, hosted by the American Heart Association Jan. 19, Ormsby, a 54-year-old woman from Peru, and Zimmerman, a 47-year-old woman from Rochester, shared their heartfelt stories of what have been some of the scariest times in their lives.

Ormsby was 49 years old when she was going about her day like any other, getting ready for her job as a teaching assistant at Peru Intermediate School.

"I got up, I fed the dog, I took him out, checked my school e-mail, and made my lunch. Everything was fine," she said.

However, when she was making her bed, she felt "an intense, sharp burning pain" in her chest, between her shoulder blades and down the inside of her left arm.

"At first I tried to ignore it, but something was telling me this was not normal," Ormsby said.

She called the school to say she wouldn't be in that day, and then called her husband, who rushed home from work to check on her. Soon, Ormsby found herself being transported to the hospital by ambulance. It was there she found out she had had a heart attack.

It wasn't long before she was wheeled into the operating room to have four stints placed into one of her heart's arteries.

"The artery was so small, that [the doctor] didn't realize it was an artery at first. It was 100 percent plugged although there was no plaque in any other arteries," she said. "To this day, they still don't know what caused my heart attack. That is the scariest thing."

When Zimmerman was 32 years old, she was being treated for bronchitis when she began coughing up blood. It was then she realized there was more to her health problems.

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