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Woman shares story of heart health, post-surgery, four years later

By Megan Gorey
Published On: Sep 05 2012 04:50:40 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 05 2012 10:07:11 PM CDT
KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

It’s always better to be proactive than reactive, according to many cardiologists.

But when something does happen, especially to your heart, it’s important to stay healthy after surgery.

One year ago, Leslie Lee shared her story about the day she started sweating at work. "It kept getting worse. My heart started racing, I started breathing fast. I got light headed and dizzy,” she said.

The 36-year old actually thought she was in the early stages of menopause. "I thought 'Oh no! Not yet,'" she said. "That's not supposed to happen!"

Lee said she never had any chest pains and she never suspected it was a heart problem, even though she has a family history of heart disease. "I have an uncle who had a quadruple-bypass surgery and an aunt as well. I've had several members of my mom's family die suddenly of a heart attack without any warning whatsoever," Lee explained.

Lee had to have a 12-hour surgery to correct several rhythm problems in her heart, a condition that cardiologist Herbert Ladley at the Wellmont CVA Heart Institute said can be cured. "The procedure has the beauty of identifying the problem, reproducing the clinical problem, making it go away and testing to make sure it's gone for good,” he said.

Now, four years after surgery, Lee said she’s still working to keep her heart working. "I’m trying to watch what I eat. I have a healthier diet. I work exercise in as much as I can,” she said.

The mother of two is trying to instill a heart-healthy lifestyle in her children. "If they can start making healthy habits now at 11 and 13, they won't be in my position when they get older,” she said.

Dr. Ladley said it’s very important that people in our area pay attention to their heart health because coronary heart disease is prevalent in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia.

For more information about how to Live Red, visit Wellmont.org/LiveRed. You can also find out more about Live Red on Facebook.