Overcoming heart disease, a survivor's story - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Overcoming heart disease, a survivor's story

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States.

On Friday, Mayo Clinic Health System hosted an event to educate women about heart disease and honored one heart disease survivor.

Geri Schlueter describes herself as a young 65 year old. She lives an active lifestyle, goes to the gym frequently, and is a nurse so she knows the importance of eating right and staying active.

That's why she knew something wasn't right one day on the treadmill.

Geri said she felt a brain freeze and she had a lot of neck pain.

After feeling pain and being short of breath during her workouts twice in two days, Geri made an appointment in the doctors office she works in but almost didn't go.

She explains, "When I thought about the appointment, I said 'I think I'll pass on that, I'm ok, I'm doing fine, it was probably some fluke thing'. The receptionist said 'You're going downstairs, we love you'."

Thanks to that receptionist and doctors who performed chest X-rays, an EKG, and a coronary angiogram, Geri found out she had three clogged arteries and would need triple bypass surgery.

She immediately thought 'Oh no, this stinks it can't be happening to me.'

Geri's family has a history of heart disease.  Her aunt died of the disease not long ago.

Heather Whitney, a Nurse Practitioner in Cardiology said genetics plays a big part in heart disease.

But Geri felt that she was in a good place. With everybody was working for her. And she feels that made such a difference in her attitude and outcome.

Geri wants to share her story with others. "Don't wait and decide like I tried to do, that 'oh, it's probably something else'. No, it could be what changes your life.'"

It's now been one year since the surgery and Geri is back at the gym and getting a trainer.

She said the experience taught her to be a lot more grateful about the days that you do have, because no one ever knows that. "They told me they felt like I would have 25 more good years, and I'm kind of counting on that."

Geri plans on retiring in April and traveling to Washington D.C., to see the cherry blossoms.

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