Local News

May 14, 2013 1:07 PM by Jennifer Lira - jlira@kristv.com

Special Report: A New Life, A New Heart

CORPUS CHRISTI - Heart disease is the number one killer of women in America. Yet many women don't know the signs or pay attention to them.

A young woman named Ally Babineaux drew headlines a few years ago for her personal struggle with heart disease as she was just getting married. She became known as the 'Bionic Bride' and now calls the Coastal Bend her home.

In 2010, Ally danced the night away with her new husband. It was a picture perfect wedding day, but getting to that point wasn't easy. Tucked away beneath her wedding gown Ally was concealing a secret.

She carried two battery packs connected to a machine implanted in Ally's chest designed to keep her alive.

"I had my purse under my dress. My grandma took the strap and tied it. So this just stayed here and then I had everything," Ally tells us.

In 2007, when she was only19-years-old, Ally was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy - a condition that weakens the heart muscle. It came as a complete shock.

Up until then Ally was strong, young, athletic, and now she was being told she had a life threatening heart problem.

"It's pretty shocking, not just for myself, but for my husband, at the time he was my boyfriend, and my mom and dad who were like, she's just a baby," says Ally.

In the months to come Ally was in and out of the hospital. The whole time surrounded by family and also her college sweetheart, Mike, who popped the question.
Just as Ally was to begin planning her wedding she took a turn for the worse.

"I was like, 'wait, I just said yes to getting married, uummm,' but now apparently I'm dying," recalls Ally.

Finally in 2009, a life-saving device that was new on the market was hooked-up to her heart. The LVAD was her new life line.

It got her thru her big day, but the happiness wouldn't last long. Only a few months later, newlywed Ally was hospitalized again.

"My doctor came in and she just had this look.And I was like, 'no'. And she comes in and she goes, 'you need a new heart.' And I was like, 'no, no...'

Ally is one of the lucky ones as doctors were able to find her a new heart. She's better now, attending college and enjoying life as a housewife.

But thousands of women in the U.S. die from heart disease every year and in many cases it's because they ignore the signs. It doesn't have to be that way.

"Very few people die of heart attacks these days. As long as they come into the hospital. As long a we get them into the hospital when they're having a heart attack, survival is very good, over 90 percent," says local physician Gregg Silverman.

Dr. Silverman says knowing the signs of a heart attack and acting quickly can save your life. In women the symptoms can be different than in men.

"Women tend to get a little more shortness of breath rather than true chest pain. They generally go a little bit longer because they don't realize it, that is, they get smaller areas of -- I can't quite go as far as I did before, I cant quite go up the amount of steps," says Silverman.

As in Ally's case, heart disease can strike at any age. But she's also living proof that it doesn't have to be a death sentence.

There are things every woman can do right now to lower the risk: exercise, eat right, stop smoking, know your family health history, and listen to your body.

It's better to go to the emergency room and find out it's not a heart attack than ignore what could be a real problem.

Ally will be a guest speaker at the American Heart Association's 'Go Red for Women' luncheon and fundraiser tonight at the Ortiz Center

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