HARTFORD -- 10-year-old Robbie Pechillo was born with a congenital heart defect and had open heart surgery at just 9-months-old. Then mom, Leigh was celebrating Mother’s Day in 2014 when she experienced severe heartburn. It turned out to be a massive heart attack.
Leigh collapsed in the bathroom, fortunately her husband performed CPR and shortly after she was transported by helicopter to Hartford Hospital where doctors discovered a 70 percent blockage in her left anterior artery. It's known as the "widow maker" because a blockage in this location often results in death.
"On Monday evening I went into cardiac arrest in the hospital and went into cardiac arrest 3 times. It took them shocking me 13 times to stabilize me… just couldn't believe it happened. I woke up in the ICU and they explained I had a heart attack, and I just couldn't believe it,” Leigh said.
Leigh says like most women, life just got in the way. She was closely monitoring her son’s heart defects and also her father who had heart issues. She’s adamant about women listening to their bodies and taking the warning signs seriously.
"For women it can be much more subtle. It can be some heartburn, back pain, jaw pain, nausea, unexplained fatigue, that you hadn't experienced before. It’s really important that if you think you're feeling these kinds of symptoms that come on quickly, contact a doctor, or if comes on suddenly don’t be afraid to just call 911!" she explained.
Leigh says now everyday is a blessing. The Pechillos work closely with the American heart association, urging people to know their family history and the warning signs of heart attacks-- specifically for women.
You can learn more about the warning signs of a heart attack here.