I Was Thin, Fit—and Had a Heart Attack at 28

Eve Walker had no idea just how vulnerable to heart disease she was—until she looked deeper in her family history.

Back in 2001, when I was just 28, I thought of myself as being in good health. I was a size six and active, a modern dancer. I was working in a consulting firm and had two young sons. But one day I was so exhausted, I had trouble walking up stairs. I figured I just must not be in the best shape—I certainly wasn’t concerned enough to contact my doctor.

A couple days later, I felt tingling that started at my leg and moved up one side of my body. This time I knew something wasn’t right, and a neighbor took me to the hospital. It turned out that I was having a heart attack. At the hospital, I was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle enlarges and thickens, making it hard for the heart to pump blood properly. It may also cause arrhythmias, or an abnormal heart rhythm, or even heart failure. It’s also usually inherited.

My diagnosis was a total shock. Before this happened, I had no idea that I needed to worry about heart disease. I remember as a kid hearing that my grandma had a heart attack, but she was in her 90s, so I never thought about it ever again. My family didn’t talk about it either.

After my heart attack, I found out that my mom had hypertension and an enlarged heart. In fact, we were prescribed the same heart medication, a beta-blocker that serves many purposes, including helping to treat or prevent heart attacks. She was always so quiet about her health that I had never known.