Published on October 30, 2019

Lockport Woman Urges Other Women Not to Ignore Symptoms of Heart Disease  

When Pamela Frontera of Lockport cheered for the Bears against the Broncos in Denver earlier this season, she had a lot to be grateful for! Not only did the Bears beat the Broncos, Frontera was in the stands cheering them on…an amazing feat for a woman who had open-heart surgery at Silver Cross Hospital less than two months earlier.

Pamela FonteraCaption: Pamela Frontera of Lockport gets her steps in during cardiac rehabilitation at Silver Cross Hospital. 

In July of this year, Frontera received the unfortunate news she had three blocked arteries in her heart.

“Before I found out about my heart blockages, I thought I was just slowing down due to my age. Now I share my story with as many women as I can and encourage them to get checked out and not to dismiss any symptoms,” the 66-year-old explained. 

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women over age 25 in the United States, and while the death rate from cardiovascular disease has decreased in men, it’s increased in women, dispelling the myth that heart disease is just a man’s disease.

Frontera didn’t experience typical symptoms of heart disease such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, pain in the neck, jaw, throat, or upper abdomen. She experienced flu-like symptoms and dizziness.

Women’s Symptoms are Different

In fact, women’s symptoms of heart disease like Frontera’s can be different than men. Women may feel a fullness in the center of their chest, break out in a cold sweat, experience pain in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach, have shortness of breath without chest discomfort, nausea or vomiting. 

Frontera’s story began in July, when she woke up feeling so lethargic she could barely get dressed. She also had a troubling pain across the middle of her back. That’s when she asked her husband to take her to the emergency room at Silver Cross Hospital. 

A stress test followed by an angiogram performed by cardiologist Parag Jain, M.D., F.A.C.C., detected three blocked heart arteries that would require coronary artery bypass surgery.

Frontera’s surgery was performed at Silver Cross by noted thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Pat Pappas, who has over 25 years of experience performing heart surgery. When she recovered, she began cardiac rehabilitation at Silver Cross. 

“There’s a comfort in wearing the heart monitor during my sessions that gives me some reassurance that I am exercising at a level I can tolerate,” she added.  

“A diagnosis or treatment for a heart condition can be life-changing, even frightening,” explains Brendan Casey, Director of Cardiology, Endoscopy and the Interventional Lab at Silver Cross. “The goal of the Silver Cross Cardiac Rehabilitation Program is to provide individualized, progressive exercise and education to help participants and families recover from the cardiovascular event and prevent future heart problems. Our program is designed to improve the functioning of the heart and lungs, strengthen muscles, and help our patients confidently live their best life.”

“My family was amazed at the care at the hospital, every step of the way was great,” she added. “When I found out I needed heart surgery I already had tickets to see the Chicago Bears play in Denver in September – so I figured there was no way I would be recovered in time to go. But, with the encouragement of my medical team and family I was able to make the trip and see the game!”

For more information about Silver Cross Hospital’s heart and vascular program, visit silvercross.org/heart

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Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.