Jan Knott firmly believes there is life after a heart attack.
Knott, 59, of Marion, had a heart attack two years ago.
"I never had any problems before that," she says.
"I don’t consider myself to be that old and I thought I was doing all the right things to take care of myself."
But one day Knott started experiencing strange symptoms. "I was so sweaty, like I’d just run a marathon," she recalls. "I was really dizzy and my chest did hurt some, but not hugely." When her symptoms didn’t subside after a few minutes, she called 911.
Knott was lucky because she received immediate medical intervention before too much damage was done to her heart.
After having two stents placed at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Knott went through St. Luke’s rehabilitation program.
"Having tried various weight loss programs in the past, I knew a lot about how to read labels and such. But this series of educational sessions actually showed me how cholesterol builds up in your body."
Knott says she learned the true value of caring for your body as you age.
"As you get older you have to make lifestyle changes and be more careful of what you eat and how you care for your body," she says.
Today, Knott has totally revamped her diet. She is also committed to walking at least one mile every day — whether outdoors in warmer weather or on the treadmill she and her husband Tom invested in after her heart attack.
"I think this is so important, especially because I work an office sales job and am sitting most of the day.
As you get into your 50s, you have to be cognizant of what you are doing for exercise and make a commitment to helping build up your heart."
Knott is also pleased that her heart attack prompted her three grown stepdaughters to have a greater awareness of their heart health. They’ve all taken an interest in running. In fact, last year Knott and her family competed in Des Moines’ Warrior Dash event.
"It was a challenge to myself at my age and I am proud to say I did it."
Knott encourages other women to truly listen to their bodies when it comes to their heart health.
"Your symptoms are going to be specific to you. You need to have an awareness that they might be different, so if something is going on and it lasts more than five or ten minutes, definitely have it checked out.""It’s been two years and I am doing well. There is life after this. But as a heart attack survivor, you have to take care of yourself."