- Megan Corbin, a 30-year-old professional dancer, survived a heart attack in July.
- Like many women, she didn’t recognize the symptoms, and thought she just needed to burp.
- She’s encouraging others to be aware of the risks and take control of their health.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Megan Corbin hoped a good burp would solve the pain and pressure bubbling up in her chest and back when she awoke one night in July 2020.
“I thought all I needed was some ginger ale to get rid of gas,” Corbin, a 30-year-old professional dancer in Crescent City, California, told Insider.
When her discomfort progressed into more debilitating pain and cold sweats, she thought perhaps what she really needed was the cold tile of the bathroom floor. She woke up her husband, Raymond, and asked him to carry her there.
“The only thing I was able to do was lay my body across the floor — I was physically unable to do anything [else],” she said.
But when Corbin told Raymond her left arm had gone numb, he knew she needed emergency care. He carried her to the car and drove her to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed a heart attack.
Even then, Corbin said, “that was the last thing I thought was happening.”
Corbin, now a volunteer for the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women “Real Women” campaign, shared her story with Insider to empower more women to know the signs of a heart attack.
Heart disease and stroke cause 1in 3 deaths among women each year
Heart disease and stroke cause one in three deaths among women every year. That’s more deadly than all cancers combined, the American Heart Association says.
Stroke in particularly disproportionately affects Black women, and over 40% of non-Hispanic Black people have high blood pressure.
“[Having a heart attack] feels completely different than what you would expect,” Corbin said. While men tend to feel the pain close to the heart, as in the images where they’re seen clutching their chests, women often feel it in their back and chest.
As a 30-year-old so fit she performed in physically demanding shows in Las Vegas and coached a young dance team, Corbin didn’t see her heart attack coming.
She also has no family history of
, but later learned she had high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure.
“You’re one of the healthiest people we know. I do all kinds of crazy things,” Corbin said her friends tell her. “Why did this happen to you and not me?”
The experience inspired Corbin to open her own dance studio
Once doctors diagnosed Corbin’s heart attack, which was caused by a blockage in one of the main arteries to her heart, they gave her a beta blocker to loosen the clot and ease her pain. Then, they sent her on a small plane to Medford, Oregon, where she received a stent.
“On the flight, I was just thinking, ‘I hope my mom knows,'” Corbin said. (She did.)
At the hospital, doctors told her she was the youngest person they’d operated on.
“I looked at the doctor and said, “I didn’t plan on dying today, so let’s do what we have to do,” she told AHA. “That kind of lightened the mood for everybody.”
Now recovered, Corbin checks her blood pressure, temperature, and weight daily. “Little things like that will help you get in tune with your body and be aware of what’s changed,” she says.
She’s also fulfilled a longtime dream of opening a dance studio — yes, in the middle of a pandemic.
Because she lives in a small city where COVID-19 transmission rates are low, she’s able to teach small in-person dance classes in addition to her virtual fitness classes. “It’s also providing a sense of normalcy [for the community] in these crazy times,” she said.
She credits her heart attack for making the dream a reality.
“I can be one of those people who’s like, ‘Oh I’ll do that tomorrow,’ but then tomorrow turns into a month or a year,” Corbin said. “But with the heart attack, I was like, ‘I can’t wait until tomorrow. I might not wake up.'”