NORFOLK, Va. – Heart disease survivor Janice Taylor is often called a walking miracle.
“You can take lemons and make lemonade. I know it's cliché, but it's true,” Taylor said to News 3 This Morning’s Jessica Larche.
The Hampton Roads woman survived a stroke in 2011, followed by a massive heart attack that nearly took her life in 2014. She said the signs began with intermittent chest pains.
“I was like okay, maybe this will pass, so I took an aspirin,” she recalled. “I started getting sharp pains in my heart, sharper pains going down my neck, my back. And I started feeling difficulty in breathing and a heaviness in my chest.
Taylor said nausea and vomiting followed, and she immediately made her way to the hospital.
“I remember coming out and I was on the gurney, and I was looking at my family and I kept saying why do they have red eyes? Why do they have tissues? I didn't know I coded in [Senatara Princess Anne Hospital] I coded,” she recalls.
Taylor has extremely small veins, which made her more susceptible to stroke and heart disease. She said her condition inspired her to eat well and exercise, and while it didn’t prevent her from experience a stroke or heart attack, she believes her healthy lifestyle allowed her to survive it.
“I'm grateful and I’m also humbled because it could have gone another direction,” said Taylor.
That’s why Taylor works so hard to encourage prevention as a volunteer with the Hampton Roads branch of the American Heart Association.
“Women are slower to go the hospital when they get the symptoms,” said Taylor referring to research by the American Heart Association. “I think somewhere within us that we always feel we have more time. We always feel not right now, and when you're forced to deal with a situation, it is what it is.”
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of women, with one woman dying from cardiovascular disease every 80 seconds. The AHA also says 80 percent of cardiac events could be prevented with exercising more, eating better and managing high blood pressure.
Doctors now know the signs and symptoms of heart disease is men and women can be different. Some women can experience jaw pain, exhaustion, nausea and arm pain.
Taylor said she's on a mission to save lives with her story.
"This gives me a second purpose," she said.