When this Ironman triathlete was feeling short of breath she assumed her sports bra was just too tight. She didn’t dream in a million years she was having a heart attack.
Anna Cupples, who hails from Auckland, New Zealand, said she felt “uncomfortable” and considered going to the emergency room, but decided against doing so because she didn’t think her pain was that serious.
Cupples, who was 35 at the time, later visited her primary care doctor who performed an ECG. The test didn’t find anything amiss and her doctor assumed she had injured herself in a workout. However, bloodwork that was done as a precautionary measure revealed that she had had a heart attack.
“I was an Ironman triathlete, I felt invincible. I didn’t really believe I could be having a heart attack,” Cupples admitted to Stuff.
“When it’s something so internal and so integral to staying alive, it’s really scary,” Cupples went on to say.
Cardiologist Dr. Fiona Stewart says “we don’t manage chest pain well for women” because of the widespread conception that heart attacks occur mostly to men. She added that “It is important to recognize that people with ‘low cardiovascular disease risk’ can still have heart attacks, just more rarely.”
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of New Zealand’s indigenous population and a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health Manatū Hauora says that there are healthcare inequities for Maori and Pacific women.
Two years later, Cupples suffered a suspected second heart attack and had to be hospitalized additional times. However, six years after the initial heart attack, the mother of one says she is fully recovered and that she is not worried about her health.
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