Like any 32-year-old woman who exercised regularly and maintained a relatively healthy diet, Andrea thought she was doing what she needed to do to have a healthy life.

“I never thought of myself as immune to anything,” she says. “But I certainly never thought I’d have a heart attack at my age with no risk factors.”

So when she first began to experience an unusual tightness in her chest, she would dismiss it as cramps or shoulder pain and wait for the discomfort to subside. Over time, however, the symptoms worsened and Andrea decided to get it checked out by her primary care physician.

Her doctor ran a series of tests on Andrea’s heart — including an EKG — all of which came back normal. But just days later, the pain returned with unprecedented intensity. Andrea’s husband rushed her to the ER at Bon Secours St. Mary’s, where she was immediately seen.

A second EKG indicated that she’d had a heart attack sometime within the last week. Andrea was then admitted to St. Mary’s, where a cardiac catheterization was planned for the next day.

But that night, as she lay in her hospital bed, the pain returned with a vengeance and she was immediately sent to the catheterization lab.

The catheterization revealed a very severe blockage in the main artery on the front of her heart. Fortunately, the cardiac team at St. Mary’s was able to quickly perform a stent procedure, which provided immediate relief.

A month later, after participating in cardiac rehab at Bon Secours Heart and Vascular Institute, Andrea had an ultrasound that revealed her heart muscle had completely recovered.

Today, a happy, healthy Andrea feels stronger than ever and gives much of the credit to Dr. Nelson and the staff at Bon Secours.

“Dr. Nelson is intelligent and caring,” she says. “It felt like someone in my family was taking care of me. I was really in a sense upset to have to leave the hospital because of the care that I received. They are wonderful people.”

For Andrea, good help now means paying it forward.

“Just knowing the things that I’ve been through… to know how far I’ve come and how quickly I’ve come. I just think I’ve been saved to be here to be a voice to others. I have all of this bursting out of me that I want to share with others to hopefully help them or someone they love.”