It’s not uncommon for golf lover Margaret Galt to hit the links four times a week. But the summer of 2007 was different. It was very hot. While on the fairways, there were times when she just didn’t feel well. She thought it was due to the heat and indigestion. “We always stopped at the 9th hole for a sandwich, and usually after that hole I’d get indigestion,” she remembers now.
One day, at the 13th hole, her game was off. She kept missing the ball. So she decided to walk slowly ahead of her party. While she was climbing up to the 14th hole – it’s so steep golfers call it heart attack hill – she had trouble catching her breath. When she sat down on the bench, she turned pale and started sweating. She also experienced pain in her right shoulder and tingling in her right jaw.
At the urging of her golfing partners, Margaret went home and booked an appointment with her family doctor. Even though an electrocardiogram and blood tests showed no signs of a heart attack, her doctor referred her to a cardiologist.
That’s when she found out she had heart disease – three of her major arteries were dangerously blocked. Given that uncles on both sides of the family had heart disease and had died early, she was fortunate. “My doctor told me that I would certainly have had a heart attack and died if I hadn’t gone to see my family doctor.” Surgeons placed stents to open up her blocked arteries and then she attended a year of cardiac rehabilitation. All was well.
So when she began to experience indigestion again a year later, she didn’t think anything of it. In fact, her doctors figured it was probably due to acid reflux disease. “The indigestion always happened when I was active – like walking my two German Shepherd dogs.” Because she continued to feel unwell, her doctor finally booked an angiogram, which revealed that the stents had closed up and needed replacing.
Today, Margaret is doing well – and still golfing. “I am thankful that my doctors didn’t give up on me.” Her advice? “Listen to your body. There’s no harm in having your symptoms checked out. Be persistent. Women, especially, need to be informed about heart disease.”
Read about the warning signals of heart attack.
Learn about The Heart Truth, the Foundation’s campaign to raise awareness about women and heart disease.