Dancer has a heart attack at age 30
Megan Corbin has everything going right in her life and her career as a professional dancer. Getting her start at Dance Plus studio, the Hazelwood Central High School graduate went on to college to study dance and performed on stages from one coast to the other. Now living in northern California, Corbin said she always wanted to open a dance school.
And 2020 turned out to be the year she would do it, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and despite having a heart attack in July, just a few months after her 30th birthday.
Corbin said she actually had been feeling pressure in her chest for about a month. She had been doing live workouts on Facebook every day. One morning, everything changed.
“Eight o’clock in the morning, I had a heavy feeling in my chest like it was just pain – front and back. I tried to deal with it on my own for about 10 to 15 minutes, and then I finally woke my husband up,” Corbin said. “He carried me to the bathroom, and I thought that I had to vomit … and I was having cold sweats, so I literally laid across the bathroom floor, because I was cold, but I was hot, and the floor was cool. Me, I kept saying, maybe ‘I need a ginger ale,’ because it felt like gas.”
She said it felt like very intense gas, right in the chest area.
“It was when I told him my arm was numb and I could not feel my arm, he said, ‘You have to go to the hospital,’” Corbin said.
Her husband drove her to a nearby medical facility. Due to COVID restrictions he could not go in with her at first. After an EKG confirmed she was having a heart attack, her husband was allowed to be with her for a short time, before Corbin was airlifted to a hospital in Medford, Oregon, where cardiac specialists could immediately provide the lifesaving care she needed.
“The team was waiting for me outside the hospital. They put a beta blocker in to open up the blood clot in my artery, and they said the blood was actually not flowing to my heart,” Corbin said.
The health care team at both facilities were amazed that this young woman who by appearance was the healthy picture of youth was anything but.
The doctor explained to her that they needed to put a stent in the artery. Corbin said, “Once he got done, I said, ‘Well, I don’t plan on dying today, so let’s just do what we got to do.’”
Corbin was hospitalized for 10 days after her heart attack and surgical procedure.
The doctor told her she had “extremely high cholesterol and high blood pressure,” neither of which runs in her family.
“Had I known certain signs, such as 1) women tend to feel a heart attack in their chest and back rather than their heart, or 2) nausea, diarrhea, numbness, cold sweats, difficulty breathing (all symptoms that I felt) are all signs of a heart attack, I would’ve gone to the hospital sooner,” Corbin said.
The American Heart Association chose Corbin as one of its 2021 Real Women, to share her story and to encourage and empower women to become more aware about heart disease in women.
“I’m extremely excited and beyond grateful to be a 2021 Real Woman with the American Heart Association. Before working with them, I had no idea of the risks of heart disease and stroke amongst women; especially women of color,” Corbin said. “One-in-three women will die from heart disease and one woman is killed every 80 seconds. Unfortunately, too many of us don’t know what to look for. Knowing the signs and symptoms can make a huge difference.”
Corbin also wants women to focus on their health.
“I want women to start paying attention to their bodies, keep track of their numbers (blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol) and make better diet and lifestyle choices,” Corbin said. “Small steps like this today can save a life tomorrow.”
Corbin opened her dance studio just three months after having her heart attack, surgery and going through cardiac rehab.
“All of my doctors know about the studio and that I’m dancing , and they’re happy for me,” Corbin said. “I think that things lined up the way they did for a reason, for me to be in the position that I am in now. Even though I had a heart attack, it was a blessing in disguise, because it actually pushed me to do what it is that I’ve always talked about. I realize you only get one life to live.”