Young Mother of Two Prevented Heart Attack by Listening to Her Body

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- It was shocking for a healthy mother of two to hear she was two weeks away from a heart attack. Heart attack symptoms are not always obvious, especially for women.

Seeing Jen Hummel on the treadmill, you can tell she's an avid runner. "35-year-old female who is very healthy," she said.

That was until December, when the mother of two could no longer go the distance. "And then after that five minutes, I had to physically stop. So, it was discomfort, it was pain. There was just no way to push myself through it," said Hummel.

Hummel went to the doctor, but only because she didn't want to spread germs over the holidays. "I went in thinking I had bronchitis and within a day and a half I had a stent put in my heart valve," said Hummel.

Doctors said a main artery was 95 percent blocked. Her only risk factor was a family history of heart disease. "They say there's really no reason this happened to me but very important to listen to your body because the signs were there," said Hummel.

After getting the stent, Hummel spent a month in cardiac rehab. She visited the UnityPoint Des Moines Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab a few times a week.

"We try to help people just get back to what they want to do after a heart event, but safely, slowly," said Laurin Canfield, UnityPoint Des Moines Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab Nurse.

Hummel started with short intervals. Nurses monitored her heart rate, rhythm, and blood pressure. Hummel is back up to running 25 minutes at a time.

"We're seeing younger and younger people, men and women, honestly. So, I think the important thing is if something doesn't feel right, call your family doctor, go to an urgent care clinic, listen to your body."

It's something Hummel is glad she did as she quickly returns to her active lifestyle. "My goal still is to keep on running," said Hummel.

Hummel recently finished her cardiac rehab. She is signed up to run the Market to Market Relay in May. She's thinking about doing the Des Moines Half Marathon in October.

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