For 20 years, Cindy Fisher, 63, co-owner of Pinnacle Amusements, an events rental company in Charlotte, North Carolina, worked 10 to 12 hour-days planning and executing 800 events a year for collectively 5,000 clients.
In 2010, Fisher’s company was $140,000 in debt forcing her to lay off her entire 65-member staff. That year, she and her husband and co-owner, Dave divorced after 23 years. A month later, he died from diabetes-related complications.
“It was always a stressful business particularly the last two years when my husband was alive,” she says. “Then, when I took on a partner, it was very stressful. I felt like I couldn't let it go.”
Since 2006, Fisher had been experiencing heart palpitations. “It started when I went into menopause,” she says. “I’d gone back and forth to several doctors. They ran tests on me. The echocardiogram, the saline stress test, the treadmill stress test. (They) had taken pictures of my heart and everything looked okay.” She was prescribed beta blockers to regulate her heart beat.
In March 2013, Fisher, who'd been suffering from postmenopausal bleeding since 2012, went to the hospital for a pre-operative Dilation and Curettage (D&C). “They ran an EKG on me. They found out my heart was AFib,” she says.
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications, according to the American Heart Association. Nearly 3 million Americans live with AFib, which is the most common heart rhythm abnormality among people 65 and older.
Fisher was prescribed four medications and underwent the D&C procedure that April. The following month, during a routine chiropractor visit, she asked to have her pulse checked. “I could tell my heart was beating fast,” she says. Her heart rate registered 170 beats per minute. The average is 60 to 80.
Fisher was immediately admitted to the hospital. That night, her heart rate dropped to 23 beats per minute. She was administered Tikosyn among other medications and stayed a week for observation. Despite taking the drugs, Fisher’s heart rate remained low; therefore, she would need a pacemaker.
Since then, Fisher’s heart has remained stabilized. She’s eating healthy, drinking more water, walking twice a day, and learning more about heart health. And as far as reducing stress? She remains on leave from Pinnacle and says, “The things I can’t control I have to let go of.”