Lafayette General Medical Center Heart Failure Survivor Recognized by ‘I am CardioSmart’ Contest

2/29/2016

Today, the last day of heart month, Lafayette General Medical Center honors a heart attack survivor, Myra Robin. Myra, 43, was treated at Lafayette General Medical Center after suffering a “widowmaker” heart attack that permanently damaged her heart and left her with multiple cardiac conditions, including heart failure. Her life was “forever changed,” but she hasn’t let that stop her from embracing heart healthy habits and inspiring others with her experiences. Because of her commitment to living well with heart disease, Robin is being recognized by the American College of Cardiology’s “I am CardioSmart” contest.

CardioSmart is the ACC’s patient education and support program. Its mission is to engage, inform and empower patients to better prepare them to participate in their own care. The “I am CardioSmart” contest recognizes individuals living well with heart disease. Robin was among five finalists representing different heart conditions chosen by “I am CardioSmart” this year.

One evening, Robin began feeling unusual chest pressure that left her unable to fall asleep. She took two antacid tablets hoping that would ease the pain. Instead it continued to get worse and she began to sweat profusely.

She said she thought of her father and brother who both had heart attacks at a young age. She took two full strength aspirin, which she later learned might have saved her life. Once she could not lift her arms because they felt so heavy, she alerted her husband and drove to the emergency room. The nurses told her she was not only having a heart attack, but “it was a big one.”

She had three stents put in her main artery, but her heart had been without oxygen too long and sustained permanent and irreversible heart damage.

Today, Robin has heart failure, left ventricular dysfunction, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy and atrial fibrillation, but she’s used her heart disease as a reason to inspire others and to adopt healthier life habits.

“My motto is, ‘do not let heart disease define who you are, nor who you can become,’” Robin said.

And she hasn’t. Stress was a large contributor to her heart disease. When her cardiologist at LGMC, recommended she reconsider her career in senior management for a less stressful one, she was shocked but eventually realized he was right. She credits her great relationship with her cardiologist and heart failure specialist in playing a key role in managing her heart failure.

Robin now works part time at her local church where she has a much more low-stress job creating a welcoming and inviting atmosphere for church members. She also quit smoking and has altered both her and her family’s diet to reduce their salt intake and use heart healthy substitutions for butter and fats.

“I learned cooking from my mother. She cooked all of the tasty Cajun dishes we are recognized for, which unfortunately are not so healthy and filled with butter and fats,” Robin said. “I have learned to modify those dishes into heart healthy ones by using simple substitutions and adopting the philosophy of ‘all things in moderation.’”

Robin has also become involved with the national organization WomenHeart, and works as a WomenHeart Champion Educator to educate others about heart disease being the number one killer of women.

“I have been able to meet so many women who share a similar story as mine; a story of survival,” she said. “I call these ladies my heart sisters. My heart sisters inspire me. They teach me that life is short and that we should live each day as if it were our last.”

To learn more about preventing or living well with heart disease, visit www.cardiosmart.org.

To learn more about Robin’s story, visit https://www.cardiosmart.org/Connect/Patient-Stories/Myra-Robin.

To learn more about heart failure symptoms, treatment and prevention, visit https://www.cardiosmart.org/Heart-Conditions/Heart-Failure.

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