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"I Didn't Know I Had a Heart Attack"

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Sharon Furlong Markey looks nothing like the big-bellied guy you probably picture being rushed to the ER for a heart attack. Still, she needed a triple bypass at age 38. Her story sheds light on a little-known form of this deadly disease.

"I Thought I Had Heartburn. It Was a Heart Attack."

Two years ago I was in the best shape of my life. I was 38 and biked regularly with my husband, Hugh, through the hills and fields near our home in Newtown, Pennsylvania. I went to the gym three days a week, and I had just completed a grueling three-month boot-camp workout program with a great group of girlfriends. I was fit, I was trim, and I was healthy. So when I found myself feeling nauseated and oddly fatigued one day in March 2006, I was a little surprised but not too concerned. After all, I'd spent the morning snacking on ham, super-hot salsa, and chocolate-covered strawberries left over from a dinner party I'd thrown the night before. I figured I had heartburn or maybe food poisoning. I sent Hugh, Claire (my daughter, then age 8), and Jack (my son, then age 5) to the movies, while I kept Madeline, the baby, at home, so I could try to recover from my overindulgence.

When I collapsed on the sofa to catch my breath, a sharp pain sizzled down my left arm. A pulled muscle? Something worse? Still pondering how salsa could make me feel so sick, I popped some Tums and literally crawled up the stairs and into bed to try to sleep it off. Hours later, the pain made me vomit. Back from the theater, my husband started Googling my symptoms. That's when the possibility of a heart attack came up.

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