When you find out you were born with a congenital heart condition at the age of 39, you tend to question everything in your life. This personal story about having a heart defect proves that some things are meant to happen to teach us how to turn a frightening experience into an important message. In her own words, Kerrie Lee Brown explains how her wake-up call and the realization that she had a heart defect since birth definitely happened for a bigger reason than she originally thought. Today she helps women realize they are not alone.
Note: In this 3-part mini-series, our founder shares some insight on why her story ultimately became the building blocks she needed to start a new women’s movement.
“Born With A Heart Defect”
The biggest lesson I learned was that if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.
Yes, it’s true. I had a heart attack before the age of forty and it literally knocked me off my feet. See My Heart Story.
I wasn’t leading a bad life either. I don’t smoke. I’m not overweight. I have no history of heart disease in my family, and I don’t have high blood pressure. But I was stressed beyond belief and I didn’t realize how much. So much so that my body was shutting down.
After wearing a Mobile Cardiac Arrhythmia Diagnostic System for two weeks 24/7 (also known as a “loop monitor”) under the instruction of my cardiologist, I was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition called Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT). This type of “short-circuit” arrhythmia develops before birth.
The doctors conducted various tests to determine the diagnosis because my heart was not beating properly, and I had a frightening health scare a few months earlier. I also failed the cardiac “stress test” which was surprising given my fit lifestyle.
This heart condition diagnosis explained the sudden rapid heartbeats that were causing my unusual shortness in breath—and why my heart often jumped from 70 bpm to 230 bpm in a matter of seconds.
My heart would literally shift into overdrive without warning. I felt like I was running a marathon even at rest; and the crazy thing was that everyone around me could physically see my heart pumping through my clothes. Scary!
Although I remember these heart episodes occurring in high school, I don’t remember them ever being as frequent as they had become in my late thirties. I’ve since learned that they can get worse with age as a result of an electrical problem in my heart and increasing daily stressors.
About the condition
PSVT means there is a short circuit in the heart that bypasses the desired pathway to make blood flow occur normally, which enables the heart to beat excessively fast.
Since PSVT results in a significant increase in heart rate beyond what the heart is really designed to do, frequent and prolonged attacks can also cause damage to the heart muscle.
In a typical heart attack, there isn’t enough blood flow to the heart (supply) due to blockage of the arteries; but in the PSVT heart attack scenario, there is excess demand due to the rapid heart rate, and the body can’t supply enough blood flow to meet it.
Depending on the amount of damage, this could lead to poor functioning of the heart and eventually heart failure.
To be honest, I was actually relieved when I found out that I had PSVT because it is treatable. Cardiologists are able to locate and remove this alternate pathway and prevent this bypass from occurring. That’s what I did.
When I look back, I truly believe my health scare was a push to pursue my new venture.
RedLily® was created to give women a place to share their voices; which has led to a meaningful and unique lifestyle movement for women. With that being said, my goal is to continue spreading awareness about heart disease to all women.
This platform will help.
To reiterate the importance of heart-health awareness, please take my advice as a survivor:
- Learn about the signs
- Take note of your symptoms
- Don’t wait! Tell someone
- Take action as per a professional
About the Author:
Kerrie Lee Brown is a heart-health advocate, business coach, speaker, mom of two, and creator of RedLily®. To read her full heart story (including “10 Signs You Need to Slow Down”) check out her author profile and book on Amazon.
Also, find out why she created this platform for women just like you! There’s a method to her madness in helping women heal in all areas of their lives.