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Dinah Reath: I Wasn't At Risk for a Heart Attack, but I Still Had One

This article is part of the Fall 2018 Beacon magazine. READ MORE FROM THE ISSUE.

I didn’t have any risk factors for a heart attack, but there I was, in the pool, having a heart attack,” recalls Dinah Reath of Lewes.

Dinah, former co-owner of the Packard Reath Fine Art Gallery with her partner Sally Packard, has taught aquatic exercise classes for nearly 15 years.

“I’m physically active, eat well, and still had a heart attack,” Dinah said. “Women need to know that they could be at risk even if they are pretty healthy. And, they need to know that our symptoms are different than a man’s symptoms.”

Dinah had just finished teaching a deep-water aquatics class when she noticed she didn’t feel well.

“It wasn’t that sudden stabbing heart pain that you hear about,” she recalls. “I felt fine all day and then after the class, I noticed pain in the center of my chest and my arms felt numb. I also felt very nauseous.”

The heart attack landed Dinah in an ambulance to Beebe’s Emergency Department in Lewes.

“When I got there, a whole team was waiting for me,” Dinah said. “Denise Pecora, the cath lab nurse practitioner, told me I was going to be OK. It was reassuring to see all these professionals jump into action for me.”

Dr. Ajith Kumar, interventional cardiologist, implanted two stents in Dinah’s heart to open circulation. After the procedure and a couple nights in Beebe’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Dinah and Sally went home.

“I’ve always been a proactive person. I am not one to sit around. If there is something that needs to be done, I will get up and go do it,” Dinah said. “So, after I had recovered from my heart attack, I showed up at Beebe Cardiac Rehab and basically asked them to sign me up!”

Exercising the Heart

Dinah and Sally consider themselves foodies, however Dinah explains that the nutrition portion of her Cardiac Rehab really opened her eyes. Deb Dobies, dietitian with both Cardiac Rehab and the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program, goes over heart healthy foods with all participants. She details the importance of looking at nutrition labels and really understanding portion sizes.

“After learning from Deb, I feel like I know so much more about food and what I should eat or avoid,” Dinah explains.

Beebe’s traditional Cardiac Rehab program provides a safe place for heart patients to exercise with the help and support of trained healthcare professionals.

“The team at Cardiac Rehab is truly fantastic. They motivate you and support you when you might be anxious or nervous about getting your blood pumping,” Dinah says. “It is because of how much I learned and benefited from this program that I have decided to volunteer as a coach.”

Dinah will join a team of volunteers at Beebe who help “coach” Cardiac Rehab patients.

“The volunteers are really a key piece in what we do at Cardiac Rehab because many of them have already been through the program and they can understand what patients are experiencing,” said Abby Tschoepe, Manager of Cardiac Rehab and Ornish Lifestyle Medicine. “As a coach, Dinah will be able to share her experiences with other patients and together they will continue to learn and get stronger.”

For Dinah, the future is something she does not take for granted.

“For some of us, no matter what you do, your genetics may lead you down the path to a heart attack. That’s why it is important to know the signs and to get help right away,” Dinah said. “And, it’s great to know that Beebe is offering top-notch heart procedures and an amazing Cardiac Rehab program.”

For more information on Beebe Cardiac Rehab:

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