We’ve all done it — we notice something different going on with our bodies, and unless we’re in excruciating pain, bleeding profusely, or a bone is obviously broken, we tend to push it aside and carry on with our day. Most of the time, a “wait and see” approach works out, but if symptoms continue, it’s important to check in with a healthcare professional.
A few years ago, I was feeling increasingly short of breath with exercise. I loved going to Zumba dance classes, but when the exercise intensity increased, I struggled to breathe and had to slow down significantly to catch my breath. I concluded I was just out of shape. Other times, when I wasn’t exercising, I felt a tightness in my chest. I attributed that to anxiety – when I’m feeling anxious, I experience a similar, uncomfortable chest tightness. Because I thought I knew the cause, it never crossed my mind to make an appointment with my doctor to dig deeper.
Ignorance is not always bliss
Like most people, I didn’t know much at all about heart valve disease. Fortunately for me, my primary care physician noticed my heart murmur during a routine appointment for something completely unrelated. When she asked me if I had noticed any symptoms, I actually said “No, no symptoms.” I didn’t even know what heart valve disease symptoms were! She sent me for an echocardiogram (a painless ultrasound of the heart) and referred me to a cardiologist to review the results.
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