Yonkers woman shares her story to help others recognize early signs of heart attack

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer among men and women in the United States, according to the CDC and the American Heart Association.
On the first day of American Heart Month, News 12 spoke with a Yonkers woman who didn't know the pain she was experiencing was actually the beginning stages of a heart attack. Now, she wants people to learn from her experience and not make the same mistakes.
Last May, Fern was sitting at home one evening.
"9 p.m., I went to go to bed and I had pain that came from my waist, and it went all the way up to my head and then it stopped after a half hour, " she recalled.
She had no symptoms the entire day, but it happened again at night for several evenings until one evening she had a new symptom.
"I had a splitting headache like somebody shot an arrow through my head," she says.
Finally, she sought help and ended up at Westchester Medical Center's same-day cardiology program, which like it sounds had her come in that day. And it's a good thing she did.
"I saw her, and I realized that she was having an impending heart attack," said Dr. Julio Panza, chief of cardiology at the hospital. "But it was early enough that we could put a stint, open that vessel, and avoid her from having a major heart attack."
Dr. Panza wants people to pay attention to symptoms like shortness of breath, heart flutters or any chest pain.
"The typical chest pain that comes from the heart, feels like a pressure in the middle of your chest that may or may not travel to your arm, left arm," he explained.
Fern has a message for women everywhere.
"We are not men, we don't have a man's heart attack, we don't have that pain down the left arm that I always heard about, we have different symptoms, and one of them is coming through the stomach," she says.