Mother saved by daughter's diligence

'7 for $70' tests reveal life-threatening problem

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Sandra Dumas, of Detroit, thought she was in good health, but she couldn't have been more wrong.

"Back in March, I was just tired," Dumas said. "I thought I was just winded. Ran up from the basement all the way upstairs with a load of laundry, and when I got upstairs I said, 'Wow, I'm sort of winded. Let me sit down for five minutes.'"

It happened again in June and again after that.

Dumas thought she was just getting older. Her daughter, Michelle Hurston, wasn't convinced.

"I thought about it, and I'm, like, 'No, we are going to take this serious,'" Hurston said.

Hurston had heard about a series of tests offered at Beaumont Health called the "7 for $70 Heart and Vascular Screening."

"My daughter signed me up for the program," Dumas said. "She said, 'Well, Mom, we'll go together.'"

The tests include blood pressure, body mass index, blood tests for cholesterol and A1C levels, an electrocardiogram, carotid artery ultrasound, abdominal aortic ultrasound and screening for peripheral artery disease.

"Oftentimes, there are silent markers of heart disease," Dr. Marc Sakwa, chief of cardiac surgery at Beaumont Health in Royal Oak, said. "People don't actually have symptoms, yet we can do testing to see if there may be some issues that need to be dealt with."

The tests take just over an hour.

Dumas' results showed an abnormality on her EKG. Follow-up testing revealed a life-threatening problem.

"I have severe blockages," Dumas said. "Three arteries at 85 percent and one at 100 percent. I never knew. I'm running around roller-skating with the grandkids, having fun. I thought I was the healthiest person in my family. The doctor just came out and point-blank told me that if I didn't have the surgery, I would die."

In October, Dumas had a quadruple bypass at Beaumont. Sakwa performed the surgery.

"It's possible that she had very few symptoms or she was denying her symptoms," Sakwa said. "The first time she presented could have been with a heart attack or even worse."

Now Dumas wears her scar proudly and hugs her family a little tighter.

"My daughter, she is my guardian angel," Dumas said. "I gave her life and literally she gave me my life back."

"Just the thought brings me to tears because I could have lost my mom," Hurston said. "It is a miracle she didn't have a heart attack."

Hurston urged others to get screened and take their loved ones with them.

"My mom has health care," Hurston said. "My mom knew she had a history of heart disease. She knew she was having discomfort, but yet she did not initiate this on her own. I think it's fear of getting this diagnosis or finding out something is wrong."

Sakwa said knowledge is power when it comes to your heart health.

"They can come in and get all of these tests very quickly, for very little money, and have some ideas," Sakwa said.

The "7 for $70" screening is offered at the Beaumont Hospitals in Royal Oak, Troy, West Bloomfield and Grosse Pointe. You do not need a doctor's referral. Anyone can call at 800-328-8542 and make an appointment.

Dumas hopes others can learn from her story. Her only regret is that she didn't do the testing earlier before her heart suffered so much damage.

"If it wasn't for the '7 for $70,' I would not be here right now," Dumas said. "I'm a testimony to what God can do and what '7 for $70' can do and what really paying attention to your health can do."

To learn more about the "7 for $70 Heart and Vascular Screening," click here.

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