Standing up to adversity
The incident took Caroline by surprise, but it wasn’t the first time she experienced racing heartbeats. She had had an episode six years earlier, but never received a diagnosis.
This time, she was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, a type of arrhythmia that makes the heart beat dangerously fast and increases the risk of stroke. “My heart rate could hit 220 beats per minute. Your heart starts beating like you’ve been sprinting, but without warning and while you’re at rest. It’s definitely alarming!”
Living in fear and anxietyCaroline had to wait three months to have surgery that would correct the problem. Those months were spent in fear. Her mind was filled with terrifying questions.
She became extremely cautious, even though she normally jumps at the chance for an adventure. “I would slow down when I was running and hiking, because I didn’t want to push my heart too hard and have something bad happen,” she recalls. “I even checked the distance between our rental cottage and the hospital, just to make sure I could get there in time.”
Then she had a catheter ablation, a non-invasive procedure that repaired her heart and changed her life. She adopted an even healthier lifestyle and slowly got back to running, kilometre by kilometre. Now she’s a triathlete and feeling better than ever!
This journey was full of obstacles, which took courage to overcome. “The day I decided to start training for my first triathlon, I checked with my cardiologist to make sure my heart could keep up,” Caroline says. “I had some concerns, because I sometimes get premature beats that feel like my heart is stopping. Thankfully, my heart is very strong and I was given the green light.”
Caroline has participated in several races to raise funds for Heart & Stroke and has become a passionate volunteer for the organization, contributing her expertise and sharing her story to raise awareness. She currently serves on the Heart & Stroke board of directors.
Plus, Caroline has ensured that her commitment to heart disease research will continue, by making a legacy gift to Heart & Stroke in her will.
“Thanks to Heart & Stroke, I can be active again. I didn’t want to be brought to my knees by this disease. I wanted to fight it. And I won, because I’m one of those people who always wants to win!”