Barbi Flynn’s Story - Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day

Reader Story

Barbi Flynn’s Story

Tonight I’m feeling an overwhelming feeling that I need to share how I discovered my heart disease. For some time I have had shortness of breath, fatigue, cold sweats, dizziness, waking up at night not being able to catch my breath…I did my internet search, and made an appointment with a cardiologist. He listened to my symptoms and asked if I exercised regularly. I said “yes”. He asked if I had pain while I exercised. I said “no”. “I don’t think it’s your heart”, he said.

I explained my brother, who is three years older, has had his Aortic and Mitral valves replaced and heart bypass surgery. He then said “perhaps it’s sleep apnea”.  A bit frustrated, I asked for a stress test. He let me schedule one. Long story short, they only found some PVCs in the stress test. Thankfully the woman doing the test thought to show it to her brother, a heart surgeon, and he ordered an echocardiogram where it showed my Mitral valve was severely damaged.

One Cardiac MRI and Angiogram later I am scheduled for open heart surgery to repair or replace the valve and do two bypasses to repair an 80% and a 90% blocked artery. I was not a woman being histrionic. Sadly, many women go undiagnosed because they don’t “feel pain” and are not taken seriously. Men with heart disease don’t always feel pain either.

If you are feeling any of these symptoms, go in and get checked. If they don’t believe you, tell them my story.

PS-This is a recent photo of me surrounded by my six daughters. They are as strong as they are beautiful!