Heart disease is a serious health problem among women, yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 56% recognize it as their number one killer. According to the CDC, one in every five females will die from heart disease.
Heart disease can develop during someone’s lifetime, while others are born with it. Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs) are the most common birth defects in the United States, according to the CDC. Nearly one in 100 babies are born with a CHD, according to March of Dimes.
Bobbi Courtright, Fever Director of Community & Player Relations, was born with Aortic Stenosis and a Bicuspid Aortic Valve, two of many CHDs.
“My heart has had to work harder to pump blood through my aortic valve, which causes an irregular heartbeat and leakage of blood. It also caused a slow-growing aneurysm in my ascending aorta.”
The defect and accompanying symptoms can vary for each person. In Bobbi’s case, episodes of chest pain, including the feeling of an impending heart attack, became regular. She also dealt with fatigue and the loss of circulation in her fingers and toes.
In late 2019, Bobbi faced the reality she had known would come someday, open-heart surgery.
“I had a nightmare leading up to surgery that I woke up during the surgery.
“Above all things, God [helped me through]. I knew I was in God’s hands. Another thing that helped me was knowing [surgery] was coming. I lived much longer without surgery than they originally thought. I also had the best team of doctors I could ask for, great family and friend support and found Facebook support groups to learn more.”
Since surgery, Bobbi has returned to work and is focused on working her way back to a sense of her normal, day-to-day life.
“I’m learning it’s taking a while to get back into my normal routine, working out five days a week and getting back into the full work week. By the end of the day, I’m exhausted and still feel discomfort in my chest and ribs. There’s also still some anxiety. A lot of people may say they understand, but some really don’t, so getting on the support group Facebook page can help sometimes.”
Bobbi continues moving forward, one foot in front of the other, hoping her story may inspire someone else, who may be fighting a similar battle.
“I had a difficult time finding an adult cardiologist that understood CHD when I moved, it is very important to have a cardiologist that understands the difference. After finally finding a great doctor I heard about the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA). If you have CHD and are looking for a cardiologist I highly recommend using the resources ACHA has to find the right cardiologist.”
“[First}, listen to your body and pay attention to when something doesn’t feel right. Go in and share your symptoms with your doctor. Don’t brush it off, or say you don’t have time. Make time.
“It’s never too late to live a healthier lifestyle, stay as active as you can.”