Emily Jaeger Williams looks like a healthy young woman, but a slow heartbeat caused her problems for years.
Her husband, Jason, unknowingly diagnosed her condition years ago. “He would listen to my heart and say it was slow,” said Williams, 31, of Paducah.
Unfortunately, Williams didn’t know that diagnosis was medically accurate until she passed out at home in February.
“I’ve had a tendency to pass out ever since I was little,” she said. “I would just pass out at random times. At first, we thought I was hypoglycemic, but I wasn’t. Then I was diagnosed with panic attacks.”
On Valentine’s Day morning, Williams was walking to her bedroom when she fainted and hit her head on the floor. Her husband, who was preparing to take their son, Nicholas, 6, to school, called 911.
“I don’t remember collapsing,” she said. “My husband said I stopped breathing for 30 seconds. When I woke up, the paramedics were there.”
Williams was transported to the Western Baptist Emergency department, where she was diagnosed with a slow heartbeat. The next day cardiologist Stephen Young, M.D., implanted a MRI-safe pacemaker.
Williams was adopted from South Korea when she was 2, so she doesn’t know if family history contributed to her slow heartbeat.
“Congenital problems with the electrical system of the body are sometimes hereditary and sometimes not,” Dr. Young said. “It is rare to have a slow heart rate at 31, but the condition that causes it is not rare.”
Williams has returned to work with a new peace of mind after the diagnosis and treatment. “It was affecting my daily life,” she said. “Now I feel normal. I don’t live in fear of that feeling anymore.”
For more information on heart conditions and treatments, see westernbaptist.com/heart, where you can take a free 5-minute heart risk assessment.