CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's been almost 13 years since Kelley DeLeo's world came crashing down. She was hanging out with a friend and just didn't feel right. There was pain in her back and some pressure in her chest. She was a nauseous and thought she could pass out.
DeLeo's husband rushed her to the hospital.
"All of a sudden everything in the emergency room started going at high speed. They noticed that I was having a heart attack," said DeLeo.
The Cary mom thought she was in good shape, yet there was a hundred percent blockage in blood flow to her heart.
"That is usually the heart attack that people do not survive. It's called the widow maker and the widow maker is also a heart attack that is mostly associated with males," said DeLeo.
DeLeo's sharing her story to raise awareness as part of the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in America.
"I'm thankful. I'm grateful every day, but I also know I don't take any day, any moment for granted," said DeLeo.
The American Heart Association says the pandemic has significantly impacted the risk for heart disease.
The Association says 1 in 5 people have reported a drop in physical wellness and 1 in 3 have reported lower emotional wellness.
"Women are at home, moving less, and we have more stress on our plates. There's more things that we have to deal with, so we want women to reclaim their rhythm and get out and be more physically active," said American Heart Association Regional Executive Director Anne Miller.
DeLeo did change her lifestyle after the scare. She started eating better and pushing herself to do more one mile at a time.
"I did the Tobacco Road Half-Marathon," said DeLeo.
There were many other races to follow, and she now has a number of medals.
"It's actually motivating to me," said DeLeo.
She feels an overwhelming responsibility now to help others. She's encouraging women to take better care of themselves and listen to their body.
"It's better to go to the doctor or emergency room, and have them tell you 'Yup, you're fine. You're okay' then to not end up going to the doctor and having a worse outcome," said DeLeo.
Cary mom spreads awareness about heart health after surviving a heart attack
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