Denise Widzgowski, 55, was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy a year ago. She had a heart transplant in June.
ATLANTA -- Denise Widzgowski, 55, is one of the newest members of the Piedmont Atlanta Heart Support Group.
"I had my heart transplant on June 6, and today is 13 weeks," Widzgwoski of Lawrenceville told the group during a meeting last week.
At 55, she had no idea she had heart trouble until her first symptom surfaced last September at the end of a long work day.
"I walked up the stairs and literally got so short of breath that I fell on my bed, just collapsed and couldn't breathe," Widzgowski said.
Weeks later, she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, or weakening of the heart.
Months later, she qualified for the heart transplant list.
"It was just something that was very much an acute onset, and thank goodness I paid attention to it," she added. "Otherwise, I might not be sitting here talking to you right now, very seriously."
But she talked to 11Alive's Jennifer Leslie to make other women more aware.
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Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S. Statistics show one in three women will have heart disease during her lifetime.
"Women can experience symptoms like shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue," said Dr. Jyoti Sharma of Piedmont Heart. "They can have palpitations and even weight gain. So a lot of these symptoms can be vague and very common."
Widzgowski knows it makes all the difference if you know your body and trust your instincts.
"If something doesn't feel right, you need to do something about it," she said.