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The Below Deck Mediterranean captain recounted the scary experience during an interview with PeopleTV's Reality Check earlier this week. She said she recalled feeling "off" while working out in a SoulCycle class.
“I remember thinking I was going to clip off the bike so I don’t fall, I didn’t want to disrupt the class, and I certainly wasn’t going to call 911 in the middle of Beverly Hills,” she said. “So I decided to call an Uber, and then I called my sister — and I survived.”
Captain Sandy said that in that moment she recalled the symptoms of a heart attack that she heard one of the speakers talk about on her I Believe tour, which can be different for men and women. “I could not swallow,” Captain Sandy said. "I was watching my heart rate on my watch and it didn’t go down, and I started to feel lightheaded. I didn’t have any numbness, then when I got off my bike and walked outside, I started to feel the tingle in my left arm, exactly how described.”
The heart attack was brought on by high blood pressure that had gone undiagnosed, and it resulted in SCAD (spontaneous coronary artery dissection), which occurs when a tear forms in a blood vessel in the heart. “My health is great and it was great," Captain Sandy said. "That’s misleading to think that you have to be unhealthy to have a heart attack, that is not it. My veins are clean."
Captain Sandy checked in to Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles where they performed a procedure through the vein in her hand. "Oh my gosh, it was so painful," she said.
She spent about four days in the hospital after the surgery. "The dissection was so small, they couldn't put a stent in. They said the body's a remarkable vessel, and it healed itself," Captain Sandy shared. "I had one of the top cardiologists in the country, and thankfully, I went to that particular hospital. I am clear."
Captain Sandy was instructed to not do any SoulCycle for 12 weeks after the surgery. But it was her career that she was really concerned about after this health scare. "I called my maritime attorney. I wanted to make sure that as a captain going to sea I was covered, the Coast Guard, because a lot's affected when you have a heart attack," she said. "My career is solid, I passed a physical. In fact, I have a heart of a 20-year-old. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, it had nothing to do with that. It was high blood pressure that was unchecked, and also I’m sure my diet probably had a lot to do with it.”
Captain Sandy is speaking out about her experience in an effort to raise awareness for heart health in partnership with the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign during February, which is Heart Month. She has also tweeted about her excitement for attending a Go Red for Women luncheon in South Florida on Friday, February 20. "The time is now," Captain Sandy tweeted. "Women are leaning into the idea that when we take a stand, commit, and work together, real change is possible."
Captain Sandy explained why she hadn't opened up about her heart attack sooner during an interview with NBC 6 South Florida earlier this week. "I couldn't handle it two years ago, psychologically," she said.
She showed gratitude for all of the kindness she has received since sharing the news of her health scare on Twitter on February 21. "[Thank you] for the outpouring of love [and] concern. I didn't share sooner [because] I was still getting my head around what happened to me. It was really hard for me," she tweeted. "Now creating awareness [about] the signs [and] encouraging [people] to be proactive [about] #HeartHealth."
Captain Sandy has long been an open book when it comes to her health history. She has previously shared with fans her motorcycle accident that led to the discovery of a cancerous tumor in her kidney, her past battle with alcohol abuse, and girlfriend Leah Shafer's lumpectomy to remove cancer in her breast. Captain Sandy confirmed at BravoCon in November that Leah was cancer-free after the procedure.
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