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Women in a Heart Beat: January 17, 2013

Busy mom Renee Stewart is accustomed to putting everyone else first- a habit that could have cost her in the long run.
“Probably in the past 10 years, since I’ve had children, I’ve felt a lot of different times where my heart was racing,” says Renee Stewart, heart patient.
Her rapid heart rate eventually got the best of her.

“When I almost passed out a couple of times or I had to sit down. They last for 45 minutes and my husband really made me go and do something about it,” says Stewart.

“She had an irregular heartbeat and certainly that’s a concern because there’s different types of heart irregularities and there are risk factors associated with different arrhythmias,” says Dr. Elizabeth Cosmi-Cintron, cardiologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

Most people have experienced a fluttering in the chest, or felt their heart skip a beat. Having an arrhythmia doesn’t necessarily mean a person has heart disease, but it merits testing.

“I had an echocardiogram and EKG, which was abnormal,” says Stewart.

“Once you identify and treat the rhythm disturbance appropriately then most of the time you’re going to stabilize the patient and avoid further problems down the road,” says Dr. Cosmi-Cintron.

Studies show women are more likely to ignore their symptoms, especially shortness of breath and racing heart. They’ll often chalk it up to stress and anxiety.

“I still see a lot of delay in women and I think that’s partially due to culture. Luckily we were able to identify her rhythm disturbance as not only treatable but also lower risk in terms of complications such as stroke,” says Dr. Cosmi-Cintron.

Stewart is on medication to control the arrhythmia, and she learned the importance of not missing a beat.

“You hold everybody together. So you have to take care of yourself,” says Stewart.