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Survivor encourages healthy living, lower stress

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Estevan's Deb Salaway had a heart attack six years ago, and is sharing some of the lessons she learned from the harrowing experience.

Estevan's Deb Salaway survived a heart attack nearly six years ago, and her experiences have left her with several messages she would like to share.

Salaway said she was reading early in the morning when it happened in March of 2008. At first, she didn't realize something was seriously wrong.

“I wasn't feeling well,” said Salaway. “I had this achiness from shoulder to shoulder, and I was feeling hot, so I thought that maybe it was a hot flash. After a little bit, I was starting to feel nauseous, and that's when I started to think that something wasn't quite right.”

She went to the hospital, and received the shocking news that she had suffered the heart attack.

The nursing staff at St. Joseph's Hospital was terrific, she said. At the very least, she believes that they helped reduce the consequences of the heart attack. And they might have saved her life, she said.

One of the nurses, Tara Daoust, was the one who pushed for Salaway to go to hospital in Regina, Salaway said.

Thankfully, there weren't long-term health problems, she said. And she learned, as she put it, to "stop sweating the small stuff."

Salaway admits that she was a worrier. It resulted in higher stress levels that contributed to the coronary. 

“I'm more cautious of it, and I make decisions to deal with it or put it behind me,” said Salaway. “I had to make decisions that 'I don't need to deal with this,' or 'I don't have to put up with this.'”

There weren't a lot of other lifestyle changes needed, as she considered herself a relatively healthy person who ate well and exercised regularly.

She is still a busy person, though. She has a home-based business, Deb's Typing Place, and she has been involved with other consulting efforts. Her children's hockey commitments eat up a lot of her free time.

Salaway has a couple of messages that she wants to convey. One is that people can be active after suffering a heart attack. And she hopes that people will seek medical assistance if they know that something is wrong.

“You think you're too young for something to happen, but things do happen when you're young, and … I had no idea why this happened to me,” said Salaway.

She hopes that people will seek medical assistance rather than suffer through what could be a medical crisis.

“Taking care of yourself is also key – put yourself first when you have to,” said Salaway. “If you're not healthy, then how can you take care of your family?”
Her family has been very supportive, she said. If she needs to take a nap in the afternoon or a break at another time, then they understand, she said.

It's also important for people to support the Heart and Stroke Foundation, she said, particularly in February, which is Heart Month. The foundation's representatives can answer questions and take away the apprehensiveness associated with a heart problem.

“It is a scary time, and there's always that fear in the back of your mind of 'Could this happen again,'” said Salaway.

She hasn't had any long-term health consequences because of the heart attack, but other people have, and she's glad that they have a resource that can supply information on the changes they have to make, and the symptoms they have to watch for in the future.


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