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Virtua Cardiac Team Gives Best Christmas Gift Ever to Local Nurse—The Gift of Life
Story Number is : 012918110

Faith Reilly was very busy during 2017. The 58 year-old nurse from Marlton, NJ spent the first half of the year caring for her ailing 90 year-old mother who passed away in May. Before her mother died, Faith promised her that she would take care of herself. She kept meaning to make an appointment for that physical but most of her summer was spent at the Jersey shore. In the fall, she made the appointment for late November. However, an unexpected 19 day trip to Germany to visit her college-age son during his semester abroad led her to reschedule it for early 2018. The Christmas season was fun—and hectic. So when Faith went to bed at midnight on Christmas night, she was ready for some rest and relaxation. She was not ready for the heart attack that occurred at 4 am.

Faith explained that when she first woke up, she thought she was experiencing some indigestion. She took an antacid and went back to bed. The medicine didn’t help so she went downstairs and out onto her deck to take a few deep breaths because she just “didn’t feel right”. Within 45 minutes, the discomfort intensified and Faith felt pain in her jaw, numbness in her arm and pressure that felt like an elephant was sitting on her chest. “I realized that I was having a heart attack,” she said.

Because she lived within minutes of Virtua Marlton, Faith’s husband Tom drove her to the hospital. “I walked into the ER and announced that I am a nurse and that I was having a heart attack. They immediately put me on a heart monitor and told me that, yes, I was having a heart attack,” Faith recalls. “I was really scared—I knew how bad it was.” Within minutes, the cardiac team was at her bedside and then she was being rushed into the cardiac catheterization lab. When she woke up, interventional cardiologist Kartik S. Giri, M.D. told her that her right coronary artery was 100% blocked by a piece of plaque. They had placed a drug-alluding stent in the artery to keep it open. The good news was that Faith had not experienced any heart damage. She was told to take one month of rest, spend three months at outpatient cardiac rehab and in four months she would be good as new.

Faith never thought heart disease ran in her family. Her cholesterol was considered borderline a couple of years ago when she last had blood work done but it had not been checked since. “I am sure my high cholesterol would have been picked up in blood work if I had gotten that physical,” she explained. “But, like many women, my life became very busy and I didn’t take care of my own health.” And that is the message she hopes to convey to other busy women out there—“We need to take care of ourselves if we want to continue to take care of others.”

“I feel so lucky to have gone to Virtua Marlton—it is THE heart hospital and the medical team there saved my life,” said Faith. “They performed a life-saving cardiac procedure and I didn’t have a bruise to show for it.”

Virtua Marlton specializes in advanced surgical procedures, ranging from the common to the most complex, as well as cardiovascular diagnoses and treatments including cardiac catheterization.

Women often view heart disease as a man’s issue, but research shows heart disease kills 1 woman every 80 seconds. This makes heart disease the No. 1 killer of women. Faith is now on a mission to help spread the word about warning signs and to encourage busy women to pay attention to their own health and schedule that doctor’s appointment.
Heart Attack Signs
1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
Most people associate heart attack with chest pain or discomfort. However, women are more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.
For more information or to schedule an interview with patient Faith Reilly and cardiologist Kartik S. Giri, M.D., please call Virtua Media Relations at 856-355-0801 or 856-355-0821.

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