Azle Attorney Thankful to be Breathing Easier

AZLE, Texas —Azle resident Gracie Galindo knew something was wrong. She had been experiencing dizzy spells for weeks. At first, the busy attorney and mother of two attributed it to stress and resolved to rest more. Then the shoulder pains began.

Galindo thought she’d pulled a muscle, but the pain kept getting worse until she began having trouble breathing.

“I kept thinking, I am not having a heart attack,” she said. “Something about the pain just didn’t seem to fit with a heart attack.”

She began to pay more attention to her symptoms and researched them online. When she was woken by sharp chest pain in the middle of the night, she knew it was time to do something. She immediately went to the Emergency Room at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Azle.

Doctors first administered an electrocardiogram (EKG) to test for a heart attack. When it came back negative, they ran a computed tomography (CT) imaging test to determine what else could be causing her symptoms. What they found surprised them.

Galindo was suffering from pulmonary embolism — a highly lethal type of blood clot that travels to the lungs and often requires emergency medical attention to treat. She was lucky to be alive.

“It is important to know the signs of pulmonary embolus,” said Dr. Richard Niles, a hospitalist on the medical staff at Texas Health Azle. “Rapid response is crucial in preventing serious complications because sometimes the symptoms can progress very quickly.”

Common factors that can increase the risk of developing pulmonary embolism include: prolonged periods of inactivity; recent surgery on hips, legs or knees; smoking; and extreme obesity. Many patients with pulmonary embolism experience chest pain. Other symptoms can include:

  • Coughing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate and/or shortness of breath
  • Clammy skin and dizziness
  • Anxiety

Galindo is thankful that she arrived at the hospital in time and thankful for the physician who worked past her shift to make a diagnosis. Today, she is working to get back to her normal workout routine and is more watchful of her health and well-being.

“As women, we are always so busy taking care of others that a lot of us ignore our own health issues,” she said. “I was in shock when I received my diagnosis because I never get sick. If I’d waited any longer, it could have been deadly. This was an eye opener for me and I hope my story can inspire others.”

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