Pam Broadwell

Looking back, Pam Broadwell realizes that she’d had symptoms for two weeks before ever deciding to visit the Emergency Room.

And even then, she probably wouldn’t have gone if it hadn’t been for her best friend who insisted on driving her to Rapides Regional Medical Center.

“I told my friend I wasn’t feeling well, that I had some pain in my chest and a little shortness of breath,” Broadwell said. “She told me to take an aspirin and to get ready because she was coming over to drive me.”

When her friend arrived, Broadwell was putting on lipstick.

“I think women are just so busy – you don’t think it’s going to happen to you,” Broadwell said. “My cholesterol was good. My blood pressure was good. I was even working out three days a week.”

Until that point, the only “sign” that anything could be wrong was the fact that since her retirement, she had been feeling low on energy and had started sleeping a lot.

“When I went to the emergency room, I had over 90 percent blockage of my main coronary artery,” Broadwell said. “If I had not sought help, I would be dead. The staff told me ‘We don’t see many women leave the hospital when they come in with a blockage like yours.’”

Doctors placed one stent in Broadwell’s artery – and placed a second stent several months later when she began having symptoms from a 99 percent blockage.

“Cardiac rehab was perfect for me,” Broadwell said. “After my first stent, I was afraid to exercise, afraid that I would have another episode. Knowing that there are nurses there monitoring me during my entire workout made a huge difference. It gave me the confidence I needed to keep exercising.”