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Toshawa Andrews and Son

Toshawa Andrews
Trust Your Instincts

My heart story: I was 30, and pursuing my passion—ice skating—when one day at the rink my chest started burning. I thought it was just anxiety. The next day, emergency room doctors diagnosed it as myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle). I kept skating like a madwoman.

How I came to the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center: During my third pregnancy, a maternal-fetal specialist saw something on a test and urged me to see the women’s heart team at Cedars-Sinai. After my son was born, I was at the rink and once again felt that burning sensation. I soon found out I’d had a heart attack.

My diagnosis: At Cedars-Sinai, I finally got an answer. I have microvascular coronary dysfunction, which affects the heart’s small vessels. I had 11 heart attacks between 2007 and 2010. Now that my doctors have optimized the mix of medicines I take, I haven’t had another attack. My heart’s pumping function isn’t what it should be, so I recently had a defibrillator implanted. I’m going to test it out on the ice—guaranteed.

What I want all women to know: Don’t assume that heart disease only comes with old age—I’m 38. Or that this is a man’s disease. More and more young women are being diagnosed with heart disease. I would tell women to listen to their bodies; our instincts are strong.

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