One night in July 2022, Kaslan Bittle, a 47-year-old single mother from suburban Northbrook; They started having indigestion.
Beetle put her children to bed and went to sleep, but a few hours later she woke up nauseous. So she went to the bathroom and tried to vomit.
But that never happened.
“I laid on the bathroom floor and gradually felt more nauseous and then a little sweaty,” she recalled of the 90 minutes she sat on the toilet. Beetle tried to get up to take a shower — but found she didn’t have the strength to get off the floor.
She suddenly started panicking.
Beetle managed to get up, which caused discomfort in her chest and shortness of breath. Somehow she passed it on to her mother who was visiting at the time. Then, out of nowhere, the mother of two fainted for five minutes.
Paramedics arrived and rushed Beatle to a local hospital, where doctors revealed shocking news – she had suffered a heart attack.
“The last thing I remember — I don’t recommend it — was being defibrillated.” She recalled in an interview with TODAY.com. “I remember being electrocuted in my life.”
Beatle was not even 50 years old, had no health conditions and exercised regularly.
She has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and a few months ago had an annual physical, including an EKG. The doctors who treated the mother determined that she had 100% blockage in the main artery of the heart, as it is often called. A widow’s heart attack.
A single mother of two clings to life.
Doctors intubated her, installed a stent and a temporary heart pump, and put her on extracorporeal oxygenation. It is also called ECMO According to Dr. Bow (Ben) Chung of Chicago Medicine, who treated Beatle, it was “the most powerful life support a person could ever receive.”
“This was basically as heartfelt as a person could get,” he said.
The Beatle family has been told to say goodbye and a heart transplant appears to be the only option. After several cardiac arrests while in the hospital, doctors were concerned about how much Beatle’s brain function remained intact.
She was placed on the emergency transplant list and transported to the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Within days, she was weaned from ECMO and removed from the heart pump, but faced another setback: Beetle developed blood clots in both her right and left femoral arteries, cutting off circulation to her legs. She was quickly transferred to surgery, the surgeons saved her leg and fixed the blood vessels.
From there, things quieted down a bit, focusing on recovery.
Beatle spent two weeks in the hospital, followed by six weeks of outpatient rehabilitation and another 18 weeks of cardiac rehabilitation. She also wore a LifeVest, a wearable defibrillator, for 90 days.
In the year
“It was just something tickling my chest,” she said. “And I went to the cardiologist and I was walking on the treadmill, and I felt stronger than the day before.”
Out of an abundance of caution, her doctor sent her for a stress test. The results were “not overly serious, but it was a little funny,” explained Bittle. So, again, out of an abundance of caution, the doctor ordered further testing, which revealed a 70% blockage in the main artery.
If left untreated, that can lead to another heart attack.
It’s not uncommon for people to have a second heart attack after surviving their first, Chung said, but it was unusual for another block to occur in these situations.
“At that time she was on all the right medications … to prevent another heart attack,” he explained.
Instead of heart surgery, doctors offered Beatle the option of robotic heart surgery. Unlike open heart surgeons, they don’t actually need to stop the heart with this approach. Additionally, patients can go home and resume their normal lives within a day or two.
Almost a year after her robotic surgery, Beatle says she’s doing “amazing.” “Most days, I never knew.”
She still has residual heart damage, takes medication daily and some days she is winded and has to take it easy.
“I will be a heart failure patient for the rest of my life, but my recovery is nothing short of spectacular,” she says.
One of the things that remind her of her health journey are the scars she left behind, but even those have become a source of connection.
Sometimes she compares the scar with her son, who underwent heart surgery at the age of 10 months due to congenital diseases.
“We’re both warriors at heart,” she said.
In a previous interview with the University of Chicago Medical Center, Beatle admitted that she had “survived the unsurvivable.”
“…I survived the unsurvivable, didn’t I?” she said. “I get extraordinary medical and rehabilitative care. It’s a great opportunity, and I’m very lucky. And now I’m going to live longer.”
Looking back, Beatle wishes she had known how common heart disease is in women and that women may show more subtle symptoms than men. Regardless of gender, the most common symptom is chest pain.
According to Chung, many people hesitate to call something. Pain. It may feel like discomfort, pressure or tightness, or a feeling of restlessness that just doesn’t go away.
“A lot of women think it’s like ‘I grabbed my chest and fell to the floor like you see in the movies,’ and it can be more subtle,” explains NBC medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula. February 1, 2024, Today’s Episode.
other Subtle signs Symptoms include unusual indigestion and sudden bouts of nausea, as well as shortness of breath and shooting pains in the jaw, back, arms or shoulders, which may indicate a heart attack. There are many women Men are more likely to develop these subtle symptoms than men, Chung explained.
Symptoms of heart failure in women may include:
- Chest pain, discomfort, heaviness, tightness or pressure
- Jaw, neck, shoulder or upper back pain
- Nausea, vomiting or indigestion
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme fatigue or fainting
Studies show that women are also significant. They are more likely to die after a heart attack than men.It may be due to delay in diagnosis and treatment.
The bottom line is that if you have a symptom that’s unusual for you, especially if it doesn’t go away, you should seek medical attention, Chung explains.
“You don’t have to go to the emergency room, but it’s probably best to talk to your primary care physician or go to urgent care just to get an evaluation,” he said.
As Beatle said, “Don’t think you’re being silly, get help right away.”
Knowing all she survived, Beatle said she feels “a sense of gratitude and wonder” and doesn’t allow herself to be dragged down by the negativity around her.