SPOKANE, Wash.-- Katy Bruya said she is the proud mother of two young children, Chloe who is eight and Matthew who is 10.
Bruya said her pregnancy with Chloe was not an easy one.
From her pregnancy Bruya developed a condition called Supraventricular Tachycardia, an abnormally fast heartbeat.
The condition resolved itself when her pregnancy was over.
However, four years later, doctors found something else wrong during a minor surgery.
"It was there sitting in her office, that my life changed forever," said Bruya.
Her doctor told her that the electrical system of her heart, was not working.
Hormones from her pregnancy left lasting damage on her heart.
Her ejection fraction, the amount of blood being pumped from her heart to her body, was very low.
"Mine was at 38 percent and normal is 55 to 60 percent," said Bruya. "My cardiologist told me that you are at risk of sudden death at 35 percent and you are on the heart transplant table at 17 percent."
Bruya said at that moment, fear consumed her body.
"I would think, what happens if I have cardiac arrest in the middle of the night and my kids come downstairs and find me dead in my bed? Or what happens if I just drop dead in the kitchen and no one is there?" she said.
That same night, as Bruya put Chloe to bed, her daughter asked a very important question.
"Mommy, if you die first would you please ask God to save a spot next to you for me so I can be with you in heaven? Of course, I just start sobbing, thinking this is a sign, I am not going to make it past junior high, I am not going to see my kids graduate," said Bruya.
Doctors placed Bruya on three types of medication, giving her exercise restrictions and urging her to monitor her heart.
"I start hanging out with people named Vern and Mildred and they are on walkers and they have oxygen tanks and I am sitting in the waiting room of the heart institute for all these tests and every time they call my name they bring out a wheelchair and then they look at me and say 'oh, you don't need a wheelchair,' because I am, you know, 40 years younger than all the other patients in this practice," she said.
"To have this piece of your body turn against you and I couldn't control it," said Bruya. "The part that was in my control, I wish I would've paid more attention to, was being out of breath. I really did think I just wasn't in good enough shape."
Now Bruya hopes her life experience will help others.
"As women we need to pay attention to ourselves," she said. "Something as minor as shortness of breath is actually a very big indicator that something could be wrong, so I would say to women to not dismiss any symptoms, no matter how small, ask the question. Spend an hour with your doctor to make sure it's nothing, as opposed to ignoring it and letting it escalate."
Heart disease is something that Bruya will live with for the rest of her life, something the American Heart Association reports kills one in three women every year.
"None of these things are good, nobody wants to win the award for being in the club that kills more women than anything else, but it is something that we can hopefully at some level, sort of control if people are aware of it," said Bruya.
Bruya is going to share her story at the Go Red for Women Luncheon in Spokane on Wed. Feb. 21.
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