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Hardworking woman turns focus to health

Profile image for By Megan Gray / Staff Writer
By Megan Gray / Staff Writer

Heather Wyatt is a charismatic woman who is known to work two full-time jobs each week. Never did it cross Wyatt’s mind that she might need to put her health first and her work on the back burner.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, Wyatt was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a form of heart disease that causes an irregular and often rapid heart rate, which can cause poor blood flow to the body.

“I didn’t imagine this would happen to me. Being a young, career-driven woman, you just take for granted you are healthy,” Wyatt, 34, said during an interview Tuesday morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton, where she has worked as a unit clerk for three years.

Wyatt said she has been happily married to her husband, Don Payne, for eight years. Now, she said, she is more appreciative than ever of her family and friends’ support and encouragement to seek medical treatment.

“I was having lunch with my twin sister one day and suffered palpitations for six or seven minutes,” Wyatt said. “That’s when she basically said ‘You have to let me call 911 or go to the doctor.’”

Wyatt said she knew something was wrong but kept putting off seeking treatment. When she finally saw a doctor, she had the scare of her life.

“It got to the point I couldn’t breathe,” Wyatt said. “I stepped off the scale and went down.”

Wyatt was rushed by ambulance to an emergency room with rapid heart palpitations.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill more than 460,000 women a year.

Wyatt comes from a family with cardiac issues, and she said doctors told her that losing weight will help but there is no cure.

“My husband is really good about cooking us healthy meals, and a co-worker and I just enrolled in the company’s gym,” Wyatt said.

While she has to take medicine twice a day, that’s not stopping her career.

“I definitely have aspirations to go to school and get my nursing degree,” Wyatt said.

Since being diagnosed, she said she understands why doctors tell people to do certain things.

“It’s not that they are just saying it for money — they really want you to be better,” she said. “Since I have been through this, I want to be able to pass that firsthand knowledge on.”

Wyatt will be a guest at this year’s “Go Red For Women” luncheon at the University of North Texas’ Gateway Center, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 8.

“I look forward to not only attending this year’s event but helping with future volunteer work within the organization as well,” Wyatt said. “It’s important we spread the word and encourage women young and old alike to make sure they are putting their health forward.”

Tickets for the Go Red For Women luncheon, fashion show, silent auction and American Heart Association fundraiser cost $40. The tickets are available at Northstar Bank, 400 N. Carroll Blvd., and DATCU, 225 W. Mulberry St. Call 940-442-5443 or 940-391-1691 or visit . Today is the last day to buy tickets, and no tickets will be sold at the door.

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is .