BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — It never occurred to Sherron Simmons that she might have a heart attack one day. At least, not until she was having one.
It was 2010, and she was driving back from a workout at the gym. She had what felt like the worst heartburn she’d ever had. It was much worse than that.
“When the chest pain started, I knew then that it was a heart attack,” Simmons said.
That pain began while her husband was driving her to the hospital. He’d recognized something was wrong when she got back from the gym. They made it only as far as the fire station a couple of miles from their home. From there, she was transported to the hospital, where doctors confirmed it was a heart attack. A week later, while still in the hospital, she had another.
“I actually died from the second heart attack,” Simmons said. “And thank God, he allowed the doctors to revive me back to life.”
Simmons ended up having bypass surgery and eventually a heart transplant at UAB. It took about a year-and-a-half to recover.
“I am just so grateful that God allowed me to come back,” she said.
Now, she shares her story with other women. Her book, “Through the Storms and Out,” published in 2016, tells the story of her experience. She’s also a “champion” for WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. She speaks at the organization’s events, encouraging other women to closely examine their health.
“We think that we’re made out of lead, actually,” she said. “And because we see about everybody but ourselves, we tend to ignore the symptoms that we may be having as nothing.”
Simmons knows the dangers of brushing off symptoms. Before her heart attacks, she was healthy and exercised regularly. She knew heart disease ran in her family but only among men, so she didn’t expect it to affect her, even when she started feeling tired when a “little nudge” began to ache in her chest.
“But because I had so much going on at work, I thought, ‘I’ll check it later,'” she said.
Then one day, she found herself battling chest pain en route to a hospital.
“Fear came all over me,” she recalled. “And my thought process was, ‘how could this happen?'”
She now knows it’s partly because she ignored the symptoms. She explains that whenever she shares her story. She says she wasn’t educated about the dangers of heart disease, and she wants to make sure other women are.
“So many women are dying needlessly,” she said. “And my prayer and my hope is that the education that I give will help save someone.”