Heart Health

The truth is…little do we know how much life can change in a moment

It was important to our organizing committee that our promotional campaign be high-fashion and carry a direct connection to the cause. We were humbled by the natural fit and selection of our professional model, Kiki Buttignol, from Sophia Models International, whom suffered a heart attack at 31-years-old. Kiki’s inner strength and beauty is one of many reasons you will find yourself moved by her experience  In her own words, Kiki shares her journey with The Heart Truth Fashion Show – and with you – read about her experience below:

tht_design_campaign-shoot_postcards_10“On August 14, 2007, I woke up a healthy and physically active mother with an 18-month-old daughter. Little did I know how much my life was going to change that day.

Early that morning, while working out at home with a personal trainer, I experienced a stabbing feeling between my shoulder blades. I presumed I had pulled a muscle in my back. I got off the treadmill. I started to become nauseous. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I could see that something was seriously wrong.

Within 45 minutes the pain became unbearable, radiating through my neck, jaw and right am. The pressure was so intense it felt as though my chest was being crushed by an elephant. I knew i had to do something quickly.

Googling “chest pain” with 18-month-old Stella on my knee, I followed a flow chart. The chart listed numerous symptoms for heart attack. I had them all. With the next click, the screen lit up in large, bold, red letters. They screamed at me, “CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY. THIS CALL MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE!”

EMS arrived. I was administered Aspirin and Nitroglycerin. They ran an ECG, which was immediately sent to the cardiologist at Foothills Hospital. Within minutes I was in the ambulance being rushed to Foothills Emergency.

For six days, I remained in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at The Libin Institute undergoing numerous tests and studies. The medical staff was baffled. They couldn’t pinpoint the cause of my heart attack. After undergoing a cardiogram below many watchful eyes, I was informed there was no sign of heart disease, nor blockage, and that my coronary vessel was strong, clear and healthy.

It wasn’t until I met with Dr. Todd Anderson, Head Cardiologist of The Libin Institute at Foothills Hospital, that I was diagnosed with Prinzmetal angina. Essentially this is spasming of the coronary vessel. In my case this spasm was so severe, it seized and completely shut my coronary vessel. The doctors believed the cause of this was directly related to life stresses.

It’s almost a decade later. How am I now? Allow me to summarize…At the time of hospitalization 20 to 25 per cent of my heart function had been lost. After eight months, with the help of The Libin Institute, my heart function had been rehabilitated back to 100 per cent.

This experience forced me to allow myself to ask for help, learn when to say no, and make healthier choices. Most of all, I acknowledged it is impossible to be everything to everybody. I was also reconnected to my childhood passion…show jumping horses. A passion my 10-year-old daughter, Stella, and I now share.

Having a heart attack is a life changing especially as a 31-year-old woman. My biggest realization was that in order to care for others, I needed to care for myself first. Heart attack is the number one killer of women of all ages. Never disregard chest pain. Always manage your stress levels. If you think you’re having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. This call may save your life.

This is my Heart Truth,

Love Kiki”

The committee would like to thank the team that made this dream campaign come to life.

Photo by: Noah Fallis Photography
Red Dress: Danielle Currah of D.C. Designs Inc. originally worn by Michelle McGrattan
Hair: Beverly Robertson of Influence-A Wendy Bélanger Salon
Makeup: Karen Malcolm-Pye – Calgary based Makeup Artist
Location: Spruce Meadows
Model: Kiki Buttignol of Sophia Models International


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