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How Research Saved My Life

Posted Nov 26 2010 8:01pm

As I exited the Cath Lab, I felt a sense of relief wash over me as I realized the procedure was over.   An angiogram with adenosine-stress cardiac magnetic resonance imaging  isn’t the most comfortable procedure to endure; especially if you have to ‘use the bathroom’ twice during the procedure.

Wheeled on a gurney into recover, my two doctors, Drs. C. Noel Bairey Merz and Chrisandra Shufelt followed.   Once I came to a stop, Dr. Bairey-Merz leaned in and said, “Well, the good news is we know whats wrong with your heart”.   

That’s all I needed to hear.   

While the doctors continued to talk, I didn’t hear a word.   Ten minutes into it I looked at Dr. Shufelt and asked her to promise me that she would find my husband and son in the waiting room and explain to them what I couldn’t comprehend. 

This was the culmination of five years of seaching for a doctor who could find what was wrong with my heart.   As a young woman experiencing chest pain, I was told time and again that ‘I was too young’ for heart disease or perhaps I needed to ‘lower the stress’ in my life.   In actuality, all I needed was a doctor with the skill set and mind set to listen to me objectively. 

That is exactly what I found in Dr. Bairey-Merz  and her staff at the Cedars-Sinai Women's Heart Center.   These fine doctors have been leading the way in women’s cardiac research for several years now.   Under their care, I am now participating in my third Research Study.   Each study I’ve participated in has greatly bettered my situation. 

As of December 2007, I have had the piece of mind in knowing the name of my condition;    formely known as ‘Cardiac Syndrome X’, better known as Ischemic Heart Disease 

I can honestly say that, had it not been for these fine doctors and the research they’ve done, I wouldn’t be telling you this story right now. 

It is now my focus in life to get the word out about Ischemic Heart Disease and where women in a similar situation can get the care they so desperately need.   There are a lot of us out there; they are waiting to be found. 

Rebecca Fortunato  

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