HUBBARD, Ohio (WKBN) — Kendel Jamieson Cristoff doesn’t look like the typical victim of a heart attack.
A young mother with two children, she and her doctor both thought she would have years before having to worry about heart disease.
“I was just invincible because that’s your natural instinct, to be invincible. So I was able to smoke and not exercise and eat whatever I wanted and not really care,” Jamieson Cristoff said.
Then, in December, she started to feel ill.
“It definitely wasn’t like you see on television where the person grabs their arm and falls over or grabs their chest. For me, I was laying on the floor looking for the person who brought the flu in my house,” Jamieson Cristoff said.
Her mother had suffered a heart attack at age 42. Kendel started adding up the signs: Pain in her shoulder, tingling in her fingers, sweating and nausea.
“I actually looked at my husband and said ‘I think I’m having a heart attack,'” Jamieson Cristoff said.
After surviving the heart attack, she made immediate changes to her life. She started eating right and exercising. She watches her diet and weight. Now, she has started a support group for other women to help educate them about their health.
“Imagine how shocked I was at 32 years old to be having a massive heart attack,” Jamieson Cristoff said.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women. Saturday marks the start of Heart Month and Feb. 7 is a day set aside to raise awareness of heart disease and how it affects women.
Paul Filipowicz, RN, coordinator of the Chest Pain Center at St. Elizabeth Health Center, said heart disease can strike anyone at any time.
Common risk factors for heart disease include being overweight, lack of exercise and heredity.