When a 'Funny Feeling' is Serious

How do you know if you’re having a heart attack? If you’re a man, there may be some typically standard signs—chest pain, numbness or pain on your left side, shortness of breath. If you’re a woman, you may have none of those symptoms and still be experiencing a life-threatening event. 

Just ask Kathy Sauter, who thought she was having an issue related to her diabetes back in October. Turns out it was a heart attack that she nearly didn’t survive. Thanks to her son’s quick actions in calling 911, the determined EMT who answered the call and was quick to assess her condition as a possible heart attack, and the skill of the doctors and nurses at Lutheran Medical Center, today Kathy is able to remain a part of her family’s lives. 

“This was totally unexpected,” she says. “My dad died of a heart attack, but I’ve never had symptoms of heart disease and there’s no other family history either.” 

While in the car with her son on a day she was helping him to move, Kathy started feeling like her blood sugar was really low. She wasn’t having any other symptoms or pain, just a “funny feeling” in her stomach. Her son noticed she wasn’t communicating well and slurring her speech. He knew it was more serious. 

Once she reached the hospital, doctors said Kathy was having a heart attack and got her into surgery, where she needed to have her heart shocked and stents placed to keep her blood flowing properly. Kathy was in the hospital for six days and continues to go to cardiac rehab to stay healthy. 

Surviving a heart attack means life changes. In order for 73-year-old Kathy to continue traveling to visit her children and grandchildren in Germany, Montrose and California, she had to build up her strength again. She walks regularly and eats healthier now. 

“I feel like it never happened, except that now I get tired more easily,” she says. “My heart is back to normal now, and I plan to live another 20 years.”

Genetic counseling is available at Lutheran. A physician’s referral is needed for this service. Call 303-425-8191 for more information.