This Heart Attack Survivor Turned The Pain Of A Family Secret Into Purpose

Eve Walker

Eve Walker

Eve Walker was 12 when her 16-year-old sister Louise collapsed at a party and died on the dance floor.

Sixteen years later, in 2002, Walker had a heart attack.

She’d been having shortness of breath and dull chest pains for several days. But it wasn’t until she began having pain in her leg that traveled up her side and arm, and then into her face and jaw that she frantically called a neighbor for help.

They rushed to a Detroit hospital, where Walker was diagnosed with a heart attack and ultimately hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition she unknowingly shared with her sister. The condition, which is often inherited and causes the walls of the heart to thicken, is a common cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young people.

Her doctor recommended she get an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD, to shock her heart should a life-threatening rhythm ever occur. But being unwilling to fully accept what had happened, Walker chose not to receive the device and hoped medication and a change in diet and exercise would suffice.

“What’s super amazing to me is, I was a dancer most of my life, and there were times when I felt really slow or needed a second wind,” said Walker, now 43 and living in Los Angeles. “I didn’t feel like I had the stamina of everybody else, but I never ever put this together like something’s wrong.”