My first personal encounter with Rush University Medical Center was about 11 years ago. I was having chest pains, my heart was fluttering strangely, and though I had been diagnosed with mitral valve in college, I assumed it was only panic attacks. After several of these occasions, I was referred to cardiology at Rush and was given an immediate appointment.
Following blood and stress tests and a series of other diagnostic procedures, I was told by a cardiology intern that while my current condition was stress-related, there was a bigger issue: sometime in the past I had suffered a mild heart attack or cardiac event that had, in fact, caused damage to my heart. I was so unprepared for the news that I really didn’t know what questions to ask. I felt very confused, unsure about what to do and what my condition would mean. My father had died at 39 of a heart attack, and upon learning that I, too, had sustained damage to my heart, I was suddenly terribly scared and alone.