Linda’s Story: A Nurse’s Wake-Up Call

Linda Raterman, a nurse at Miami Valley Hospital since 1972, had experienced the warning signs for heart disease. And her test results proved it.

In 2012, Linda had a coronary artery calcium scoring test at Premier HeartWorks that revealed she was at a higher risk for heart disease. Premier Health cardiologist Mukul Chandra, MD advised her to take immediate steps to avoid much more serious problems.

Good Nurse, Bad Patient

“Though I consider myself a good nurse, I was a very bad patient,” Linda said. “I didn't want to be on cholesterol medication. On top of that, I was overweight, and my blood pressure was up, but I didn't want to be on blood pressure pills. I just didn't see the reality. I was in denial, and I thought I would take care of it myself. I thought I would try to exercise and lose weight, and, of course, that did not work out for me at all.”

Three years later, Linda saw Dr. Chandra again, when she began feeling dizzy and had noticeable indigestion – but no chest pain – while at work. She went to the Miami Valley Hospital emergency department after a nursing colleague took her blood pressure and discovered it was dangerously high.

An exercise stress test led Dr. Chandra to perform a cardiac catheterization and discover that she was in serious trouble.

Reversing a Bad Situation

“I had major – 80 to 90 percent – blockages in three coronary arteries, and an aneurysm, in the fourth,” Linda said. “With all of that, I should really be dead.”  

Instead, Syed Zaman, MD, a Premier Health cardiothoracic surgeon, successfully performed a four-vessel coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) that she credits with saving her life. Remarkably, there was no lasting damage to her heart muscle. Linda now maintains a healthy lifestyle and carefully follows her doctor’s orders.

Though her story has had a happy ending, it is an exception among women who don’t take precautions to care for their hearts.

Heart Disease Vs. Cancer

“Most people aren’t aware, but more women die of heart disease than all cancers put together,” Dr. Chandra said. “Breast cancer, colon cancer, cervical cancers – none of them add up to the number of women who die of heart disease.”

Dr. Chandra indicates that women are often overlooked, and many aren’t aware of their symptoms before it’s too late.  

“Linda's problem probably started 15 years before her bypass,” Dr. Chandra said. “Up to 80 percent of heart disease can be prevented. If you start looking for early signs when you are in your 30s and 40s, with a combination of blood pressure and cholesterol checks, routine exercise and healthy diet, and coronary artery calcium scoring if your doctor recommends it, you might avoid a heart attack or prevent yourself from a stent or open heart procedure.”

In addition to coronary artery calcium scoring, Premier Health physicians may use other evidence-based outpatient cardiac testing to evaluate patients’ risks for heart disease.

“I often refer to the coronary artery calcium score as a ‘mammogram for the heart’ since it lets us spot problems at a much earlier stage and allows us to take steps to avoid more advanced stages of disease,” Dr. Chandra said.  “Believe me, it’s the best money you will ever spend in your life.”

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Every moment of your life depends on a strong, healthy heart. The Premier Health cardiology and vascular services team is here to help you, each beat of the way, with prevention, diagnostic, treatment, and rehabilitation services in our hospitals, outpatient centers, and medical offices across Southwest Ohio.