A Young Woman Uses Her Congestive Heart Disease Diagnosis to Raise Awareness of Heart Health

While getting ready to wash her hair at the end of a busy week, Shemeka Campbell suddenly felt weak and dizzy. Her heart was racing, too. Campbell decided to lie down, hoping rest would help. But when she woke up the following morning, she didn’t feel much better.

“I was still short of breath and fatigued, so I drove to urgent care, where they determined my resting heart rate was in the high 100s,” Campbell says. (A normal resting heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute, according to the American Heart Association, or AHA.) “I thought, ‘I’m young. This isn’t that serious,’” Campbell, who was 24 at the time, says. But the staff at urgent care felt otherwise and instructed her to go to the hospital.

Once at the hospital, a medical team whisked Campbell by wheelchair to a back room. In a flurry, Campbell was connected to cardiac monitors and given medication to slow her heart rate.

Doctors told Campbell she had supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), a condition in which electrical signals involving the heart’s upper chambers fire abnormally, causing a fast heart rate. Campbell took in this news, and carried on with her life not thinking much of it. But the following year, Campbell met with her cardiologist and learned she had dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart’s ventricles and atria, the lower and upper chambers of the heart, respectively. That’s when she realized that she had heart disease.


Christin Hakim

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