The Virtua Cardiac Team Gave Faith Reilly the Best Gift Ever—Her Life - Virtua Article

The Virtua Cardiac Team Gave Faith Reilly the Best Gift Ever—Her Life

Faith Reilly was very busy in 2017. The 58-year-old nurse from Marlton, NJ, spent the first half of the year caring for her ailing 92-year-old mother who passed away in May 2017. 

Before her mother died, Faith promised her that she would take care of herself. She kept meaning to make an appointment for her annual physical. But, instead, spent most of her summer at the Jersey shore. She finally made the appointment for her physical for late November. However, an unexpected 19-day trip to Germany to visit her college-age son during his semester abroad led her to reschedule it for early 2018. 

The Christmas season was fun—and hectic. So when Faith went to bed at midnight on Christmas, she was ready for a good night’s sleep. 

What she never expected was the heart attack she had at 4 am. 

When she first woke up, Faith just thought she had indigestion. She took an antacid and went back to bed but the medicine didn’t help. She went downstairs and stepped outside to take a few deep breaths because she just didn’t feel right. 

Within 45 minutes, the symptoms and discomfort intensified. Faith felt pain in her jaw, numbness in her arm and pressure that felt like an elephant sitting on her chest. “As a nurse, I realized I was having a heart attack,” she said. 

Because she lived within minutes of Virtua Marlton, Faith’s husband Tom drove her to the hospital. 

“I walked into the ER and announced that I was a nurse and that I was having a heart attack,” Faith recalls. “They immediately put me on a heart monitor and confirmed that I, indeed, was having a heart attack. I was really scared—I knew how bad it was.” 

Within minutes, the cardiac team was at her bedside and rushing her into the cardiac catheterization lab. When she woke up, Virtua interventional cardiologist Kartik S. Giri, MD, told her that her right coronary artery was 100 percent blocked by plaque (a substance in the arteries made mostly of cholesterol). 

The doctor placed a drug-eluting stent in the artery that slowly releases a medication that helps prevent a blockage from recurring. The good news was that the heart attack didn’t damage Faith’sThe Virtua Cardiac Team Gave Faith Reilly the Best Gift Ever—Her Life - Virtua Article heart. She was told to take one month to rest and to spend three months in outpatient cardiac rehab. In four months, the doctor said she’d be good as new. 

Faith wasn’t aware of any heart disease in her family. But, her cholesterol was considered borderline-high a few years ago when she last had blood work done, and it hadn’t been checked since. “I’m sure my high cholesterol would’ve been picked up in blood work if I had gotten that physical in November 2017,” she explained. “But, like many women, my life became very busy, and I didn’t take care of my own health.” 

That’s the message she hopes to convey to other busy women out there. “We need to take care of ourselves if we want to continue to take care of others,” Faith advises. “I feel so lucky to have gone to Virtua Marlton—it’s THE heart hospital. The cardiac team saved my life with that cardiac catheterization—and I didn’t even have a bruise to show for it.” 

If you’re overdue for your annual physical, call 1-888-847-8823 to schedule a checkup today. Or, ask to schedule an appointment with a Virtua cardiologist.

Updated November 19, 2019

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