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North Shore-LIJ sees red during female heart event

The 61-year-old Cambria Heights resident had what she described as heart burn and did what many other people do with the common ailment, she took some Maalox and dealt with the discomfort. "I experienced what I thought was acid reflux," Burt told a large audience that gathered at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, L.I. as part of a nationwide campaign "Go Red for Women" sponsored by the American Heart Association. The program is aimed at raising awareness for heart disease affecting women. Heart Disease is the No. 1 killer of women in America, outnumbering the next six leading causes of death, according to the American Heart Association. "I just ignored it," said Burt. "I never thought it was my heart." As Burt spoke to the mostly female audience wearing red to show their support, she told them how minor surgery on a toe probably saved her life."The EKG (electrocardiogram) in the tests run before my surgery was abnormal," said Burt. "That prompted the stress test." Burt said the stress test, performed in the very office where she worked, involves running on a treadmill for seven to nine minutes while the patient is hooked up to a variety of machines. The test showed she had a 90 percent blockage in an artery and needed cardiac catheterization to open the clogged blood vessel. "Within hours I was taken into surgery to have the catheterization," said Burt. The procedure involves inserting a catheter into the artery and expanding the blockage with an angioplasty, a small balloon that fills with air to open the clogged vessel.Burt has now recovered from the surgery and is back at work, but she has made some adjustments in her lifestyle to prevent the problem from reoccurring."I take daily aspirin, exercise, and try to eat right," said Burt. Burt encouraged other women not to ignore small health issues like she did and see their doctor if they experience anything abnormal."If you have any symptoms, don't neglect them," said Burt. "Take care of it, you have to be the advocate for yourself." Reach reporter Peter A. Sutters Jr. by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 173.

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