Michigan Association of Health Plans

Heart Attack and Triple Bypass Survivor Wants Other Women to Know the Warning Signs

This story is from McLaren. Read more here.

The week between Christmas 2021 and the start of 2022, Goldy Fehir stood in her Fenton kitchen, overcome by what felt like a severe anxiety attack. Her chest felt tight. Then a paralyzing thought struck Goldy, “Oh, my God, I’m having a heart attack. ”

Goldy grabbed her purse and keys and headed to the McLaren Fenton Emergency Room. “I got in trouble for that,” Goldy said, “Because you aren’t supposed to drive yourself.”

Fenton Emergency Room staff confirmed Goldy was indeed suffering a heart attack. They immediately sent her by ambulance to McLaren Flint, where the cardiac catheterization lab team was waiting for her.

“I had a 99-percent blockage in my LAD (left anterior descending artery) that they opened up with a stent,” Goldy said. She ended up getting four stents.

“I felt great,” Goldy said. “I went the rest of the winter and spring, and I was fine.”

When summer rolled around, however, something was not right. “I had trouble walking,” Goldy said, “I would get winded. It was getting progressively worse. At work, I would have to stop what I was doing and stand there. It wasn’t just in my chest. It felt like my whole body.”

Goldy contacted her McLaren Flint cardiologist, Dr. Syed Ahmed. He ordered a stress test, then an exploratory catheterization procedure. It revealed Goldy had three more blockages. What came next was devastating. Dr. Ahmed told her she needed open heart surgery, a triple bypass.

“I started bawling,” Goldy said, “It’s very shocking and upsetting to hear that.”

Goldy had just six days to get used to the idea. While she anxiously waited for surgery, something happened that lifted her spirits, a phone call from the cardiothoracic surgeon scheduled to perform her bypass, Dr. Sanjay Batra.

“I was so extremely impressed that he called me from vacation just to make sure I knew what to expect for surgery,” Goldy said. “He flew in to do my surgery, then flew back out to vacation. I felt very fortunate.”

On November 8, 2022, Goldy had surgery. The recovery has been challenging, but she is starting to feel like her old self.Goldy said she is still trying to process everything that happened this past year. “It still doesn’t feel real. When you watch TV and see people having a heart attack and people are clutching their chests, it wasn’t that kind of experience. It was not dramatic.”

Women typically do not have that “elephant on the chest” feeling men experience during heart attacks. Knowing the more subtle symptoms they might suffer could make a life-or-death difference for women.

The American Heart Association says the signs women should watch out for include:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest.
  • Pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • A cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness, extreme fatigue.

“These symptoms can mimic other, much less serious issues,” Dr. Batra said. “The bottom line is women should never ignore any of these warning signs. If there is a concern, get help immediately.”

  back to blog