Family history of heart disease prompts Dixon to seek medical care

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By Kate Darnell

As part of February’s Women’s Heart Disease Awareness month, The Cynthiana Democrat is sharing the stories of four women and their personal accounts of their own heart conditions and recoveries.

Diane Dixon was singing at Friendship Baptist Church one Sunday when she began having chest pains.

“It just felt like something kicked me in the chest,” Dixon said.

Dixon, who was 46 at the time, told her husband David to take her home.

But on the way home, on March 25, 2001, Dixon said she started having some second thoughts.

“My mom’s had so many heart problems,” she said she thought to herself.

Dixon’s mother had suffered from two heart attacks, had received a pacemaker, and had undergone a four-way bypass. Dixon’s aunt and younger sister had also suffered from heart problems.

Dixon told her husband to turn around and head for Harrison Memorial Hospital.

“We might as well go...” Dixon said.

At HMH, Dixon was told she was possibly having a heart attack.

Despite feeling better later, doctors kept Dixon overnight for observation, particularly due to her family’s history of heart problems.

The next day, doctors told Dixon that they believed a blood clot had passed through her heart, and they would be transferring her to Central Baptist hospital in Lexington for further observation.

At Central Baptist, Dixon was given an angiogram test, which takes pictures of the blood flow in an artery (such as the aorta) or a vein (such as the vena cava).

“It was a blood clot, but there is no damage,” Dixon said doctors told her.

She was sent home in four hours.

Today, Dixon said she keeps a close watch on her heart by taking aspirin daily and having periodic stress tests.

“Pay attention to your body,” Dixon said. “Your body will tell you when something is wrong.”

Dixon admits that she almost didn’t listen to what her body was “telling” her that Sunday at church.

“I was embarrassed to go to the hospital,” Dixon said. “What if I went and nothing was wrong?”

A family history of heart disease was the factor that convinced Dixon to go to HMH that day.

“Even though I felt embarrassed, I used my common sense,” she said.

Dixon said she knew women sometimes put their own health on the back burner.

“Women are the caregivers,” she said, as the mother of three and grandmother of two. “They take care of everyone else... They don’t think it can happen to them.”

For Dixon, she continues to believe her story may have turned out differently if she hadn’t trusted her instincts.

“I’m glad I did pay attention,” she said.

Dixon said paying attention may have saved her life.

Dixon will be sharing her story at the Harrison County Go Red for Women’s annual celebration at the Cynthiana Christian Church on Tuesday, Feb. 24 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.