Dr. Armistead Wellford featured on Fox San Antonio about heart attack symptoms for women

Aug 9, 2023

SAN ANTONIO - Heart disease is known to be a silent killer. One local heart attack survivor is raising awareness on the one warning sign she said saved her life.

"It's definitely a healthier lifestyle. I definitely eat a lot better. I have a better diet," said Juanita Sawchak, 53.

She has been going to the Health Link Rehab Center at North Central Baptist Hospital for the last four months.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women, causing one in three deaths yearly.

"I'm more active now. Without the support here. I don't think I would know how to get myself back," said Sawchack.

In October of 2022, the mother of two experienced the unimaginable. She said It all started with a sharp pinch in her arm.

"I woke up; my arm was hurting. I took some ibuprofen and went back to sleep."

Sawchak said she didn't think anything of the pain until it came back a few hours later when she went to work.

"I thought that it was odd that it came back just right here. I went online and started self-diagnosing myself. And it said, go to an ER, possible heart issues."

She ended up driving herself to North Central Baptist Hospital. Moments later, she was in the emergency room.

"They said immediately, you're having an act of heart attack right now. The next thing I know, I'm having a stent put in," explained Sawchack.

It's now awareness the San Antonio mother is sharing.

"It has been a very educational experience for me."

She wants women to know heart attack symptoms differ between men and women.

"Women are a little more subtle. Associated symptoms play a larger role, shortness of breath, maybe some nausea, diaphoresis, or sweating. One of the standing jokes is you have pain between your nose and your navel," said Dr. Landon Wellford, Cardiologist with Baptist Health System

The consequences could be deadly if someone doesn't get help, and knowing heart disease risk factors is critical.

"Going to your doctor, watching your blood pressure watching your cholesterol is huge. Watching your weight, exercising. And don't smoke, don't smoke. That is such a big risk factor.," added Dr. Wellford.

Sawchak said she's grateful she listened to her body and didn't dismiss her arm pain. It ultimately saved her life.

"Don't be afraid because the fear of the heart attack was enough. But the fear of going back to being healthy and being able to have that second chance and take advantage of it."