Heart disease survivor shares story in hopes of inspiring others

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — “I get a call from the ER physician saying I have this patient who’s come in with some kind of unstable heart conditions and so we’d like you to come to see her because we think she might be having a heart attack,” said Dr. Janet Eichholz, a Tennova Heart Cardiologist, who two years ago met Robin Morgan in the emergency room.

Morgan had significant blockage in one of her arteries and was diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease, leading to a stent being put in the night she was admitted to the ER.

“I think the most important thing is that she paid attention to her body and when she felt like something was wrong she got help – she came to the emergency room – and thankfully she stayed even though she wanted to go home,” Eichholz said.

“She came in and she said, ‘you have failed your nuclear test so I think we need to take you to the Cath Lab, and I actually looked at my husband and looked back and said can I come back later? I’ve got to get back to work,'” said Morgan. “And she goes, ‘I would prefer you didn’t’ … so off to the cath lab we went and next thing you know I’m the proud owner of a stent.”

That night – what Morgan calls a mortality check – caused her to change her lifestyle.

“Women do not pay attention to their bodies and I didn’t,” Morgan explained. “I worked 70 hours a week most of the time so I thought you know ‘Robin you’re just tired because you’re working too much, you’re stressed…. you do for everyone else but you don’t do for yourself.'”

After that, Morgan quit smoking, drinking and started eating healthier and working out at least three times a week.

“I did it because I’ve been married for 36 years, I love my husband, I love my daughters and I have a grandson and I want to be here,” Morgan said.

“We like to say time is muscle – so really you have about a two hour window where you get the maximum benefit from treating a heart attack and after that two hours, the heart muscle starts to die and once it dies it does not come back it’s like brain tissue,” Eichholz explained. “I think one of the most important things is to have a primary care physician, get checked out once a year, know your risk factors, know what your blood pressure is, your cholesterol, are you at risk of having diabetes, what is your body mass index, are you a smoker?”

“If I can inspire one person on this planet before I leave this earth for them to be mindful and take care of themselves then I’ve done what I was supposed to do,” Morgan said.

The annual Greater Knoxville American Heart Association’s Heart Walk is Sunday, September 29 at 3 p.m.

For more information on how to walk or to learn more about the American Heart Association and its resources click here.

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