A mum has spoken out about the moment she had a heart attack while driving her kids to school.
Kristie Homes, 44, of Los Angeles, told Yahoo she first felt a pain in her neck while putting her daughter in the back seat in May 2016.
She described it as feeling like she had slept on her neck wrong “but it was weirder than that”.
Ms Holmes says she had a feeling that something was seriously wrong with her health, but couldn’t put her finger on it.
“I sat in the driver’s seat and I had a sense that I needed to drive rather than sit in my driveway,” she said.
“I thought, ‘I can sit here and I’ll die, or I’ll drive’. I had no idea what was going on. I just had a sense that I was going to die if I didn’t get help.”
However, during the drive, the 44-year-old realised “something was definitely wrong” and warned her three kids, including her two-month-old, she was going to call an ambulance.
“I just knew I had to call,” Ms Holmes said.
“I was sure of it.”
But the dispatcher believed Ms Holmes was having a panic attack.
“I told her, ‘This is not a panic attack. This is not a stressful day. I don’t know why I’m feeling this way, but I need help,’” Ms Holmes said.
“She believed me and said that the ambulance was coming.”
The mum then pulled over in the carpool lane at the school and waited for help to arrive.
“I rolled down the windows so that the other parents heard what was happening,” she said.
One father got into the car and helped her with her breathing before she began losing control of her arms.
The ambulance finally arrived and parents took her children into school.
Her daughter’s former preschool was across the street and the headmistress came over and took her baby.
“Everyone helped,” she said.
“It was very small town for LA.”
The ambulance paramedic immediately started screening Ms Holmes for anxiety and she stressed to him that she was not having a panic attack.
He finally did an electrocardiogram, a test that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat and then “freaked out and started yelling into a speaker”, she said.
Ms Holmes was taken to Cedars-Sinai hospital, where she learned she had a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD), a tear that forms in an artery in the heart.
SCAD can reduce or block blood flow through the artery, leading to a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
SCAD patients are often women who are otherwise healthy, with few or no risk factors for heart disease.
Ms Holmes later learned that her heart was functioning at 10 per cent, and she was sent to surgery. There, doctors put five stents into her heart and connected her to an Impella heart pump to help her heart function.
The mum said she was “a little confused” afterward.
“I didn’t understand why there were so many people in the waiting room,” she said.
Ms Holmes ended up spending 55 days in the hospital, with the majority of them in the intensive care unit.
The mum of three added she’s “on a lot of medications” and sees a cardiologist. She also has some physical limitations.
“Holding things over my head or standing in line for a long time can make me pass out,” she said.
Ms Holmes said a nurse later told her that her sense of doom tends to happen in some heart attack patients.
“I was fortunate that people were willing to listen to me,” she said.
“There were a lot of hurdles for me not to be dead. It took a lot of humans who listened, believed my story, were trained and could recognise that my situation was serious.”
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