By Elaine Sanchez, Brooke Army Medical Center Public AffairsJanuary 18, 2013
After a trip to see her grandsons, Gloria Magruder had trouble shaking back pain that came and went throughout the next day. She chalked it up to muscle pain from over-activity and decided to take a hot shower to ease the pain.
Her concern grew when her arm felt so heavy she couldn't lift it to wash her hair. She sought care, and while her X-ray was normal, her blood test showed she was having a heart attack.
"Heart attack symptoms can be subtle in women, which is why it's so important for women to stay in tune with their bodies," said Magruder, wife of retired Army Lt. Gen. Lawson Magruder. "I'm just glad I listened to mine."
On Feb. 1, Brooke Army Medical Center will join the nation in celebrating "Go Red Day," the American Heart Association's nationwide movement to raise awareness of heart disease and ensure women like Magruder are aware of how to detect and prevent it.
Many people may associate heart disease with men, but few may realize it's the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, according to the AHA. One in three women will die of heart disease.
For men and women, risk factors include high blood pressure, high levels of LDL cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity and smoking. To combat risk, the AHA recommends people use their birthday as a reminder to schedule a health checkup every year.
Magruder is now undergoing cardiac rehabilitation at San Antonio Military Medical Center, where she's learning how to reduce her risk of further heart problems through a healthy lifestyle. The rehab staff teaches patients everything from nutrition and exercise to smoking cessation.
"Each patient has individual goals, whether it's walking around their home without a walker or aspiring to run a marathon," said Stacey Dramiga, director of BAMC's cardiac rehabilitation. "We help them work toward these goals and consider it a success story when patients achieve them."
Patients also learn to detect the warning signs of a heart attack, which can include chest discomfort; discomfort in other areas of the upper body such as arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach; shortness of breath; and cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. Most importantly, people should be in tune with their bodies and seek out emergency medical care whenever they suspect a problem, Dramiga said.
Magruder credits her presence today to a healthy dose of intuition.
"Finding out you have heart disease takes the wind out of your sails," she said. "But I'm staying in tune with my body, which gives me confidence that I'll be able to detect issues in the future."
People can learn more about heart disease and how to prevent it by attending BAMC's Go Red Day event Feb. 1 from 9 a.m. to noon in the San Antonio Military Medical Center Medical Mall. The event, sponsored by the Cardiac Rehab section, will feature free risk assessments, educational materials and music by the 323rd Army Band "Fort Sam's Own."