Health Hero: Kyla Jones

Kyla Jones had never experienced any heart problems. Then suddenly, she suffered a near-fatal heart attack and had to undergo double-bypass surgery. See how she cheated death and was able to regain control of her health.

The Zipper Club

I am 48 years old and live in Columbus, Ohio. I've lived with my domestic partner of 23 years, and I have five dogs, two foster dogs from a rescue, and three cats.

I had a full-blown heart attack in 2004 when I was 42. I had two stents inserted into a 100 percent occluded lateral anterior descending coronary artery. In 2008, at age 46, I had a less intense heart attack. This time, one of the stents was inserted inside one of the previous stents.  I then had double-bypass surgery in June 2010 using a mammary vein and one saphenous vein from mid-right leg.

I was diagnosed with severe heart issues in the emergency room during my first heart attack. I'd had no symptoms prior to the crushing chest pain, shortness of breath, dry heaving, sweating, and cyanosis. Once the stents were in and I was conscious again, my main reaction was, "Okay, coronary artery disease. What do we do about it?"  My partner was terrified at first, but extremely supportive.

I was treated with medications for as long as possible. My second heart attack was caused by a clot formed inside the stent in the lateral anterior descending artery, so after the new stent was inserted inside the clogged stent, I had to increase my medication dosage to prevent future clots.  Medication, diet, and exercise had successfully reduced my cholesterol LDL to below desired ranges, and my blood sugar was under control. But soon, the medications no longer sufficed. The blood clot blockage increased and the angina increased. I had to undergo double bypass surgery to prevent another heart attack.

The outcome of the surgery was better than expected. My heart is in outstanding condition, and there's virtually no damage. My medications have been reduced and, in some cases, discontinued.  I resumed my diet, increased exercise, and stopped smoking completely.

What advice would I give?  Life is short, so enjoy it!  My partner and I have become closer , and I try to take more time to enjoy her and our pets. She and I have found things to laugh about, even in the hospital, and through the pain.  I have a few new scars, but it's no big deal. Scars are the badge of the Survivor.  Dead people don't scar.  Being a member of the "Zipper Club" is fine with me.


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