Peggy Sanesky said the feeling came suddenly, like a small bit of indigestion in her chest. She felt tired, but chalked it up to her son’s impending wedding. Only her husband realized what was happening: she was suffering a heart attack.
Ms. Sanesky recovered, but said she was emotionally scarred by the experience. It wasn’t until she learned about an organization called Women Heart that she found there’s support out there for women who suffered from heart disease.
“I started to realize that I wasn’t going crazy, she said. “What I was feeling and experiencing was a natural outcome of having a heart attack.”
On Sunday, 10 years after her heart attack, Ms. Sanesky led a “knit-in” at the Fitness Advantage gym in Southold for women to knit and crochet scarves to give to women who are recovering from heart attacks.
Ms. Sanesky, who is now a support leader with Women Heart, said the scarves help to comfort women in their time of need.
“It touches them, because after you have something like that happen to you, it’s shocking,” she said.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in men and women, she said, and typically kills more women than men each year. Though women can suffer the same symptoms as men during heart attacks, they often will have “atypical symptoms.”
Unlike the sharp pain commonly associated with heart attacks, women may experience slow growing discomfort or pain. A woman may have an unusual backache or have cold and clammy skin suddenly.
But Ms. Sanesky, who lives in Huntington, said the best way to sense a heart attack is intuition; if something doesn’t feel right, she said, don’t assume it’s nothing.
“You know your own body,” she said.
While the Women Heart organization encourages women to get screened for heart disease, exercise and eat healthy to reduce their risks of cardiac arrest, the small group of women gathered in the gym Sunday afternoon were there to lend their support to others.
“Every February we do something to help raise awareness,” said Fitness Advantage owner Sarah Sirico. The group spent a few hours with their needles and yarn sewing red and maroon scarves. Some of them planned to leave notes with the scarves to give to the women as they recover.
“It just lets them know they’re not alone,” Ms. Sanesky said.
To donate a knitted scarf to the cause, drop off the gift at Fitness Advantage in Southold, where it will be given to a local hospital. For more information about Women Heart, including how you can get involved, call 631-271-3766.