Every time Carmen Serrano thinks about the year she had a heart attack, she gets emotional. “The day I had the attack was also my son’s first year of high school. I was afraid I wouldn’t see him graduate,” recalls Carmen. “That same year my mom had a heart attack.”
DETERMINATION IN THE FACE OF FEAR
Carmen was at work at New North Citizen’s Council in Springfield when she started having chest pain and trouble breathing. She dismissed the symptoms thinking she was experiencing anxiety. Carmen’s coworker, Juanita, heard her struggling to breathe and suggested she go to Baystate Medical Center.
“Juanita drove me to the hospital. There, doctors ran some tests and told me I was having a heart attack and that they needed to perform a procedure to open my clogged arteries,” says Carmen. “I was scared, but determined to live for my son and my family.”
An interventional cardiologist placed stents, tiny tubes, into Carmen’s arteries to keep them open and restore blood flow to the heart. “In the recovery room after the procedure my family and friends were crying as they watched me. I remember the nurses reassuring them.”
RECOVERY AND REACHING OUT
A few months after the procedure, Carmen was recovering and receiving follow up care and therapy. Around that time, Carmen’s 80-year-old mother had a heart attack and had to have triple bypass surgery at Baystate Medical Center.
Carmen says, “It was such an emotional time. But now my mom is doing well and I am too. I’m grateful for the Baystate doctors and their expertise and for saving our lives.” Carmen saw her son graduate from high school and college, and he is making a difference as a social worker in the community.
Carmen talks to friends and loved ones and even people from work about taking care of themselves. “Even the adolescents I work with, I tell them, “Just because you are young doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of your heart and see your doctor regularly. Heart disease can happen to anyone.”