BY AINE CONCEPCION/AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION
“I was on death’s door and didn’t even know it,” said Kimberly Van Scoy, local career newscaster. “You don’t have to look like someone who would have heart problems… to actually have heart problems.”
Kimberly first experienced shortness of breath in March 2020 and didn’t go to the hospital until that June. “I would wake up suddenly, gasping for air. I kept telling myself that I was just tired, had allergies and was anxious because the pandemic had just begun,” shared Kimberly. “Deep down, I knew something wasn’t right, but I kept thinking it would just go away.”
“I should have gone to the doctor sooner, but I kept ignoring my symptoms. Your mind will play tricks on you. I remember telling myself, ‘It’s March, I’m having spring allergies, or I’ve gained a little weight, you know, I just need to exercise more,’” remembered Kimberly.
Kimberly didn’t have typical risk factors, but she was experiencing symptoms. For the most part, she was fit, at normal weight, and had no underlying risk factors like diabetes or high blood pressure. She also did not have a family history of heart disease. “I was under stress. I’m a worrier, and age is a factor. I was 59, almost 60,” shared Kimberly.
“To say June 7, 2020 was a wakeup call, is an understatement,” recalled Kimberly. Her stepdaughter insisted she go to the emergency room at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center that day when she couldn’t eat and her shortness of breath was getting even worse. She was diagnosed with acute congestive heart failure and her heart was only pumping at 15%.
Kimberly was in the ICU for four days. “Much of it is a blur because I was so sick,” recalled Kimberly.
A few months later, she was strong enough to begin cardiac rehabilitation, where she worked her way up to 40 minutes of walking and cycling three days a week. “Little by little, I got better and better. We also made changes at home by eliminating salt from our meals to help reduce the fluid on my heart. I made sure I got enough sleep and lost 16 pounds. That’s how much fluid was on my heart!” shared Kimberly.
“It’s by the grace of God that I’m here, and it really is amazing because I put off going to the doctor for so long. I am so thankful to my husband, family, and friends for helping me every step of the way. I couldn’t have done it without them,” said Kimberly. “Heart failure can happen to anyone. Even small signs can be the sign of something big. Listen to your body and don’t put off treatment. It could save your life. I’m living proof of that!” Kimberly recently stepped away from the anchor desk to focus on her health.
Throughout the years, Kimberly has emceed the Winston-Salem Goes Red Breakfast, helping to recognize other women that had been impacted by heart disease and stroke. Now, Kimberly Van Scoy is a 2022 Forsyth County Go Red Woman, sharing her story to help other women prevent heart disease. Novant Health is proud to be the American Heart Association’s “Life is Why” and “Go Red for Women” sponsor in Forsyth County, celebrating, supporting and encouraging women to put their health first wherever they may be in their journey.