Ann Longtin woke up in the middle of the night with pain radiating between her shoulder blades.
“It felt like it extended through to my chest, and this went on for an hour,” she said. “The whole time I just remember telling myself, ‘I can get through this.’ This feeling continued off and on into the next morning.”
Longtin and her husband live in the quiet little town of Taunton, Minnesota, just 20 miles outside the city of Marshall.
“When I told my husband the next morning, he was really concerned. He wanted me to get checked right away,” Longtin said.
The night before she hadn’t wanted to wake her husband, even though she knew she should. And this is actually a very common occurrence.
Many people do not recognize or dismiss signs that may indicate a heart problem, like a heart attack. Women especially miss signs of heart trouble because symptoms can differ significantly from the symptoms men experience.
Thankfully Longtin was not experiencing a heart attack. However, any heart-related symptom could be serious and require immediate medical attention.
“When we went to the ER, they thought I could have a blood clot because we had just gotten back from a trip and a long flight,” she said. “I was admitted for observation. They did blood work, an EKG and CT scan, and I stayed overnight so they could monitor my heart to make sure I was not having a hidden heart problem.”
Longtin knew her family had a history of heart problems. Her dad had died from congestive heart failure after years of battling high blood pressure and heart disease that included two open heart surgeries.
Heart problems were not isolated to just her father. Of her father’s 12 brothers and sisters, all except three had also passed away from heart failure.
After learning about Longtin’s family history, her doctor wanted her to be seen by a cardiologist. Longtin was referred to Orvar Jonsson, M.D., a Sanford Health cardiologist who sees patients through outreach services at Southwest Minnesota Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Marshall.
“That afternoon I got a call saying I could be seen the next day. I couldn’t believe Sanford Health would be able to get me in so quickly,” Longtin said.
“You can’t mess around if it’s your heart,” she said. “I am so thankful that I went in and was able to get peace of mind. Now, my care team knows about my family history and can take that into account when creating a care plan. Dr. Jonsson and his nurse were so great at explaining everything to me. Anytime I need to see him, I can see him right in the Marshall area.”
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