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Michelle’s story: Heart attack at 41 was ‘wake-up call’

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Michelle Hansen woke up in intensive care, not really knowing what was going on.

When she found out she’d had a heart attack, she had a moment of clarity.

“Could you hand me my purse?” Hansen said to someone on her care team.

“I handed them my cigarettes and my lighter and I said, ‘I’m done smoking.’”

A heart attack at age 41 will get your attention like that.

Dr. Scott T. Weslow, an interventional cardiologist with Aurora BayCare Cardiology, isn’t surprised that it happened to such a young person.

“We’re seeing patients who are younger come in with heart attacks and it’s all about lifestyle,” he says.

Hansen admits her lifestyle likely contributed to her heart attack.

Michelle Hansen before her heart attack, smiling and leaning on a bar full of Bloody Mary drinks.

“I really wouldn’t say I was too much of a partier, but I liked to go out and have fun,” says Hansen, who lives in De Pere. “A lot of late nights, a lot of eating fast food, a lot of just not caring.”

Some other bad habits went out with the cigarettes.

Hansen ate healthier. She lost 75 pounds. Cardiac rehab sessions helped improve her fitness.

“Going to the cardiac rehab was a big help,” she says. “It keeps you motivated. It keeps you focused.”

Weslow appreciates that focus.

“Michelle got a wake-up call. She got the big heart attack. She could have very easily died from this, and she answered that call,” he says.

Hansen had a simple goal: “Living a little bit longer with the people that I love.”

That, she says with a big smile, includes “My wedding next year! Yeah!”

Michelle Hansen discusses her life after her heart attack.

Published: Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Author: Jeff Ash