Southern Arizona Woman Survives Widowmaker Heart Attack

Charlene Grabowski was lucky … everything went right the day she suffered a "widow maker" heart attack in 2013. On the Saturday morning of her heart attack, she had just completed an intense workout and felt a heaviness and fatigue. Then came the intense pressure on her chest. “It felt like an elephant sitting on my chest,” Charlene said. She knew this was a heart attack. She and her partner made a quick two-mile trip to the closest hospital which, by luck, had a specialization in cardiac care. The luck continued with an empty emergency room, a security guard who wheeled her in directly and, as additional luck would have it, an interventional cardiologist who was completing rounds in the ER. Within 30 minutes of experiencing symptoms, Charlene was on her way to the cath lab for a stent placement to clear the 100% blockage in her left coronary artery. Charlene says education and being able to recognize her symptoms, plus a dedicated health advocate in her partner, contributed to her incredible, complete recovery.

Charlene Grabowski smiling

Today, Charlene is a fierce advocate for the Go Red for Women movement in Southern Arizona. She serves on the Executive Leadership Team and on the Southern Arizona American Heart Association Board of Directors. She is also a past chair of both the Tucson Go Red for Women Luncheon and the Board of Directors.  She recently gave the keynote address at the 2020 Tucson Go Red for Women Digital Experience, urging all attendees to be aware of the signs of heart attack in women, take action right away and get help, and to always advocate for yourself when it comes to your health.

Learn more about the Go Red for Women movement and how you can get involved.