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Woman Hopes Story Spurs Others To Be Mindful Of Heart Disease

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Women who control their weight, blood pressure and cholesterol can lower the risk of heart disease, but one woman's only risk factor was one she could not change -- a family history of heart disease.

To her friends and family, Janet Bowen was always the picture of health.

"Everybody that knew me said that I was the least likely person that they knew to have this happen," she said.

Two years ago, Bowen had a heart attack.

"I did get very nauseated, was vomiting, and I had a real clammy feeling," she said.

Most women can have the classic symptoms of chest pain and shortness of breath, but some have more subtle symptoms, like nausea, cold sweats, unexplained fatigue and pain in the shoulders, neck and jaw.

Friends convinced Bowen to go to a Greensboro hospital. During catherization, doctors discovered two heart blockages, but that was not all that happened to her.

"I had a massive heart attack and they told my husband they had to shock me about 10 times to bring me back," she said.

Bowen's problem grew more serious. She needed an implantable pump to keep her heart working until she could get a heart transplant at Duke. Finally, in March 2004, the call came that a donor heart was available.

"My hand was shaking and I said, 'I've got a heart. I've got a heart. I've got a heart.' I was so excited," she said.

Health officials say women are 10 times more likely to die of heart disease than from cancer. Bowen said she is doing well and working as a volunteer to help others.

"You know I want to be able to do what I can to show these people that, you know, you can have a life after a transplant," she said.

Bowen raised $3,000 as a participant in Sunday's annual Triangle Metro Heart Walk. The walk begins at 2 p.m. at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel on Page Road near Interstate 40.


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