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Your Health Today

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Online issues:

February 2014 - Emergency Services
October 2013 - Family Birth Center
June 2013 - Amazing Care
February 2013 - Urgent Care
August 2012 - Take Care of Your Heart
April 2012 - Sports & Therapy Services

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Judy Novack

Judy is once again pursuing her passions, including cake decorating.

Heart attack symptoms of in women

Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.

Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.

Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and back or jaw pain.

If you have any of these symptoms, don’t delay! Call 911 and get to a hospital right away.

Source: American Heart Association

Sweet victory

SCAD heart attack no match for Judy Novack


A heart problem was the last thing on Judy Novack’s mind when she suffered from back and chest pressure for several days in February 2012.

The pain continued to increase, and Judy took a day off from her job at an engraving company. (“Normally, I go in even when I’m dying,” she says). After her boyfriend, Herb Trost, returned home from work that night, the couple headed to St. Anthony’s Emergency Department, where a blood enzyme test indicated a problem with Judy’s heart.

Judy, then 53, had suffered a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) heart attack. Spontaneous coronary artery dissection happens when the coronary artery develops a tear, causing blood to flow between the layers and forcing them apart. This can create a blockage that can result in a heart attack, and is sometimes deadly.

Judy was moved from the Emergency Department to Cardiac Catheterization, where cardiologist Paul Gibson, M.D., inserted a stent.

“The first day that I woke up with it, I just felt, ‘Wow, I had a heart attack,’” recalled Judy. She was amazed because she’s a vegetarian who has low blood pressure, normal cholesterol levels and no family history of heart disease. The cause of the artery tear is a mystery, Dr. Gibson said.

“In my 25 years of practice, Judy is maybe the third or fourth patient I've had with a SCAD heart attack,” Dr. Gibson noted.

“This condition is rare, but it can be the cause of sudden death. Most of Judy’s heart muscle function has returned. Her outlook is good.” Judy completed the Phase II Cardiac Rehab program at St. Anthony’s, and continues to practice heart-healthy habits by exercising in the Phase III supervised exercise program through Cardiac Rehab.

“My care at St. Anthony’s was wonderful; everybody was just great,” she said. “I never thought I’d have a cardiologist, but Dr. Gibson is great.”

She is active in St. Anthony’s WomenHeart Support Group, and in October she modeled in the fashion show for the annual “Go Pink and Red for Women” event.

“Last year, Judy organized her family to participate in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk, even designing their own shirts,” said Nancy Houlihan, R.N., charge nurse in Cardiac Rehab.

“Judy’s kind demeanor and caring heart serve as an ongoing example to other patients in our exercise programs and support groups at St. Anthony’s Cardiac Rehab.”

Judy enjoys a range of interests that include cake decorating and hiking. She and Herb just celebrated 23 years together. Judy urges other women to see their doctors if they experience recurring back or chest pain.

“It’s important,” she said.

St. Anthony’s WomenHeart support group meets the first Tuesday of the month from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Call 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) for more information.

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For information, please call our Health Access Line at 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 or visit find a physician online.

Working as trusted partners, the physicians and employees of St. Anthony's Health System will deliver care distinguished by its demonstrated quality and personalized service. We will be visibly engaged in improving the health and well­ being of the communities we serve in South County and beyond. We will stand together, proud to set the standard for independent community health systems.