Rosanne Berstein with her family

Surviving the widowmaker

At only 35 years old, Rosanne Bernstein wasn’t worried about having a heart attack, even as she felt weak, experienced shortness of breath and had some pain in her shoulder.

But as the mother of two school-age children, she stayed on the go and attributed her symptoms to a combination of stress, anxiety, and fatigue.

Rosanne was at her mother’s home when the nausea hit. Her mom had a Spartanburg Regional Healthcare Center refrigerator magnet that listed possible heart attack symptoms. She called 911.

An ambulance was on its way even as Rosanne started to feel better; she began to think everything was probably fine.

EMS staff discovered that Rosanne was having a serious attack – a blockage of the left anterior descending (LAD) artery, often referred to as the “widowmaker.”

As Rosanne’s family received word about her condition, caregivers at Spartanburg Regional’s Heart Center weren’t sure she would make it. She was put on a ventilator in ICU.

“I remember thinking, ‘I’m only 35. How in the world did this happen?’” Rosanne said.

Doctors warn there could be a variety of culprits, such as family history, diet and exercise. But no one should think they’re too young to have a heart attack.

“This isn’t just an old person’s disease,” Rosanne said. “It can happen at any age.”

Two years later, she’s looking and feeling healthy. Raising three children and caring for two dogs keeps her busy, though she’s making sure to find more time for both exercise and relaxation.

As Rosanne thinks back to those difficult and frightening days in the hospital, she is grateful for the care she received.

“Everyone in the cath lab and ICU was amazing,” she said. “Spartanburg Regional was wonderful. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.”

High-ranking Heart Care

The Spartanburg Regional Heart Center offers a broad range of advanced care.

The Spartanburg Regional Foundation supports many community cardiac programs.