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Tuesday, Apr 01 2014 12:53 PM

'First Look': Healthy heart attack survivor shares her experience

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    Margaret Patteson shares cautionary words about heart disease with Californian President and CEO Richard Beene during a segment of "First Look with Scott Cox."

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

You can run, but you can't run from your genes.

That is the unfortunate truth that Margaret Patteson is now living after the athletic 51-year-old had a heart attack while cycling.

"I watch what I eat and I felt great," Patteson said Tuesday on "First Look with Scott Cox."

But that feeling changed in a matter of seconds, 16 days ago.

Patteson and a group of 10 friends signed up for a Lake Tahoe cycling competition and decided to start training for the high elevation changes.

After they climbed one side of Round Mountain Road, everyone took a moment to catch their breath and started chatting, she told Cox and Californian President and CEO Richard Beene.

But Patteson began to feel a crushing pain in her chest. She didn't think much of it but when her husband came up beside her, she held her arm out and told him she couldn't ride anymore.

"I told him I had a thing, and I didn't know what was going on," Patteson said.

Friends started noticing her color was off and a retired firefighter had a hard time finding her pulse. As she stood there, not knowing what was happening, the pain in her chest became worse, her jaw starting hurting, and had a distinct sweat pattern around her mouth and nose.

She was experiencing classic signs of a heart attack.

As her husband and friends called 911 for an ambulance, Patteson said, her breathing was shallow but she remained conscious until paramedics arrived 45 minutes later.

"It was the worst place to be having a heart attack," she said. "Road Mountain Road is a very remote location and people don't know where it's at."

When Patteson arrived at Bakersfield Heart Hospital, her EKG came back normal but as she was in the cath lab, the cardiologist found a blood clot in her LAD artery and she had another in a coronary artery.

But how could a person who is an avid runner and cyclist have heart problems?

Hereditary heart disease.

"I have tried all of my life to stay healthy because I know we have a history of heart disease," Patteson said.

After experiencing a heart attack, Patteson said, she doesn't want her family to go through that again. She is looking at a plant-based diet, which eliminates animal product.

But like the calm after a storm, Patteson was nominated by the Heart Hospital to become a spokeswoman for heart disease prevention. She will travel to Washington, D.C., to become a mentor/speaker and work with those who are living with heart disease.

"If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone," Patteson said.

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