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Woman Says Smart Watch Saved Her Life After Heart Rate Spike Led Doctors to Blocked 'Widowmaker' Artery

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Diane Feenstra of Norton Shores, Michigan, had a close brush with death earlier this year, but thanks to a gadget she received for her birthday, she’s here to tell the tale and warn other women of the lesser-known symptoms of a heart attack.

On the whole, Feenstra is a pretty healthy woman. She takes care of herself — but she also ignored warning signs.

At first it was odd little health issues here and there that Feenstra brushed off, always finding some benign thing to attribute aches and pains to.

“I had pain going down my left hand, I had a little swelling in my left foot, I had indigestion and I just explained away as acid reflux that I might have picked up later in life,” she told WZZM-TV.

“And the biggest thing was pain in my neck and shoulder and I figured I vacuumed and put my muscles out of whack somehow.”

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But on April 22, she happened to glance at her Apple Watch and was alarmed by what she saw.

“Well on the day in question which was April 22, I had a 169 beats per minute rate even though the most vigorous exercise I had done was to walk up stairs, which was 12 steps,” she recalled. “So I called my husband, who was at work, and said ‘Do you think this is concerning?’ And he said ‘Call your doctor.'”

A visit to the local urgent care and an EKG later and the doctor gave her four baby aspirin and told her to chew them immediately, and then sent her to Meijer Heart Center.

After testing, the cardiologist told Feenstra that not only had she unknowingly suffered a recent heart attack, but she was poised to experience a “widowmaker” heart attack because her left anterior descending artery had a blockage.

At first, Feenstra couldn’t believe it, but then as she thought back on her symptoms and the fact that her older sister died of a heart attack, it started to make some sense.

“I exercise, I eat right, Gary and I drink green drink almost every day at noon that I make in our Vitamix with kale and all kinds of great nutrients, and I truthfully thought ‘This is a mistake, it can’t be,'” she said.

But it was. Thankfully, the doctors were able to intervene in time and placed a stent in the artery.

“Were it not for the fact that I had that 169 beats per minute for a period of time, I wouldn’t probably be here today,” Feenstra admitted to “Today.” “Seeing it on my watch told me you have something going that you need to investigate now.”

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“I think God used that watch to alert me to the fact that my heart wasn’t functioning properly.”

Now she wants other women who experience similar symptoms to take them seriously.

“Listen to your body and do not take for granted the fact that little symptoms like a feeling of heartburn or pain that goes down your arm or into your neck or back or sometimes it’s in the jaw, don’t think to yourself, ‘Oh there are other explanations, I won’t worry about it,'” she said.

“It doesn’t pay to explain it away and not go for help.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking