NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Even though cardiovascular disease is the top killer of women nationwide, many don’t know the symptoms of a heart attack until they’re having one.

Pat Johnson, who is 64, came close to dying in 2020.

“I came out of the shower and I just felt the sense of imminent doom,” she said. “I knew I was dying. I had no pain but I knew something was wrong.”

Johnson, the senior vice president of the nonprofit housing agency 360 Management Group, quickly called 911. She was rushed to St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, where cardiologist Jared Selter saved her life.

“He told me later that he had to revive my heart at least four times,” Johnson said.

Selter treats many women like Johnson who didn’t realize they were having a heart attack, they just knew something wasn’t right. Some have sweatiness and nausea.

“Shortness of breath is a common symptom,” Selter said. “I had to do an emergency angioplasty today on a 75-year-old woman who thought she was having the worst heartburn of her life. That went away when we opened the artery.”

Johnson has three stents keeping her arteries open. She has since lost 50 pounds and is very active. She now educates other women about what could be vague heart attack symptoms and likes this advice she got during her 12-week cadio rehabilitation.

“One nurse said pay attention to anything from the waist up,” Johnson said. “It could present as tightness in the shoulders, nausea, vomiting.”

Most of all, Johnson stresses for women to pay attention to themselves.

“Listen to your body,” she said.

She advises women to also know their numbers, such as blood pressure and cholesterol. Johnson also wants African American and Hispanic women to pay attention to their numbers because heart disease rates are higher in the Black population.