Eau Claire Heart Walk set for Saturday, woman shares her story of surviving a heart attack

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- According to the American Heart Association, someone has a heart attack about every 43 seconds.

Saturday, September 26th is the Eau Claire Heart Walk to raise money for heart disease and stroke research.

Michelle Kennedy suffered a heart attack in January. It happened when she was at work at the Menomonie Walmart.

"Honestly felt like I had a building laying on me," said Michelle Kennedy.

Coworkers called 911. The 53-year-old admits she was scared. She lost her father to a heart attack.

"I looked at the EMT, and I said will you please tell my family I love them if I don't make it, and he said I'm not going to tell them anything, you are. He said I have a team of 20 people waiting for you at the hospital, and they know what to do," said Kennedy.

The ambulance brought Kennedy to the Mayo Clinic Health System Cath Lab in Eau Claire. Dr. Fearghas O'Cochlain and his team placed a stent in Kennedy's heart.

After her procedure, Kennedy did eight weeks of cardiac rehab. She's also worked hard to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Dr. O'Cochlain said what a patient does after a heart attack is most important. He said the procedure treats the problem, but it doesn't change the underlying cause.

"Real key is changing one's lifestyle, which is usually the hardest sell for people to change. That's what makes them live longer and prevent coming back," said Dr. Fearghas O'Cochlain.

That's why Kennedy exercises regularly and is eating better. She has this advice to others.

"Don't ignore what your body's telling you," she said.

Michelle Kennedy will be sharing more of her story at this Saturday's Eau Claire Heart Walk. The walk is at Carson Park. Registration begins at 8 a.m.

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