Carrollton

Doctors Blamed Stress. The Problem Was Her Heart.

At 38 years old, the mother of two suddenly passed out in her kitchen. Two different doctors blamed stress and anxiety. She followed her intuition, which saved her life.

NBC Universal, Inc.

A Carrollton mother of two is celebrating the gift of a second chance after nearly dying from cardiac arrest, and she said her intuition saved her life.

With two young children, life is active for Sheena Fannin, but when she started feeling tired, out of breath, and unable to focus, she chalked it up to hormones.

A few days later, the then 38-year-old suddenly fainted in her kitchen.

"My heart started beating so incredibly fast that it felt like it was almost beating outside of my body," said Fannin.

She went to the emergency room where tests came back normal.

Doctors told her that stress and anxiety likely caused her fainting spell, which Fannin said, she didn't believe.

"I don't suffer from stress and anxiety to the level where I'm going to collapse on my kitchen floor," said Fannin.

She went for a second opinion but the physician gave her the same diagnosis.

"I know when something's wrong, I clearly don't feel well. You need to help me figure out what's going on and I was just told that I'm fine," said Fannin.

She listened to her gut and met with an electrophysiologist, a heart doctor who specializes in the electric wiring of the heart.

He equipped her with a heart monitor.. that he could check remotely.

Two days later, Fannin got a call from the doctor who told her to get to the emergency room right away.

"I told him, 'I'm already in line to get the kids from school. Let me grab them and take them home. I'll pack a hospital bag I'll make my way to the hospital.' He said, 'You don't have time for any of that.' He said, 'You have to go now. This is serious and it's dangerous,'" said Fannin.

Fannin's heart was beating so fast and out of rhythm, she was at high risk of sudden cardiac arrest, which only 12 percent of people survive when it happens outside of the hospital.

She had ventricular tachycardia, or v-tach, an abnormal heart rhythm, or arrhythmia.

The doctor thinks it could be related to scarring from a mild heart murmur she's had since childhood.

"It was terrifying. You know, I'm the mom of two young children, and to have someone tell you that you are high risk for sudden cardiac death, I don't think that you can fully grasp what that even means," said Fannin.

There's no fix for her condition, but doctors implanted a defibrillator to shock the heart back in case it goes into v-tach again.

She's also on lifelong medication, but it's a life a small price to pay for the chance to return to her family,

"I was so happy," said Fannin. "A lot of times, your body's telling you something's wrong and you just have to believe it, and you have to do something about it."

Within six months, Fannin had reached out to the American Heart Association for her own support but also to do advocacy work.

In 2022, she was among the nation's top Woman of Impact fundraisers.

She shares her story here.

Contact Us