How One Woman’s Near Death Experience Created Her Life Mission To Save Other Women’s Lives. On September 13, 1998 Joan Ferraro suffered sudden cardiac arrest that subsequently led to a massive heart attack four days later. She was just thirty-nine years old. Luckily, Joan was in CentraState Hospital in Freehold, New Jersey when the heart attack occurred. If not, she would have died. Believing she was in need of a heart transplant, doctors quickly transferred Joan to Newark Beth Israel Hospital because CentraState did not have a cardiology unit at that time. The Beth Israel medical team soon realized that it was not Joan’s heart that was actually the problem. It took three days (and the massive heart attack in front of them) to realize she had a coronary arterial tear. Joan underwent successful surgery at Beth Israel to repair the tear, but the stent they put in to help her mend was not sufficient to enable her to live a normal life, so she underwent a triple by-pass. When the dust settled three weeks later, Joan learned that she was only the 101st person at the time to survive this type of cardiac trauma.
In 2000, Joan began volunteering with the American Heart Association. She is a regional spokesperson for the AHA’s “Go RED for Women Movement” and an advocate for women to take charge of their heart health. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women. Eighty percent of it is preventable if we only paid attention to the signs. “If women do not take care of themselves, they will not be around to help all the people in their lives who rely on them – their family and loved ones.” One of the most important pieces of advice Joan gives to women is to “know their numbers.” It is so important to know your family history and what the likelihood of heredity heart disease is.
“Seventeen years later, I am healthy and I know I am here for a reason! Since this experience I’ve become very conscious of how much I eat and how much I exercise. I don’t always do a great job with either, but I try! My mantra is take each day as a new opportunity to be the healthiest I can be for that day.”