MILWAUKEE -- Heart disease is the number one killer in our country. Statistics show someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. A Milwaukee woman is spreading awareness after making history and defying the odds.
Feeling nostalgic, Patricia Treutelaar chatted with her daughter, Jennifer, on Sunday, Nov. 3.
"After three boys, I got a little girl, finally," said Treutelaar. "She was my reward."
Not sure she would be able to conceive after a trying time with her health, the then-mom of three had her life flash before her eyes at just 34 years old.
"I ended up having four heart attacks that day in the hospital in Florida, and I had another one a week later," said Treutelaar. "I prayed to God, 'Let me live to 50,' because that was old."
Treutelaar, now 79, looked back on all that she's overcome and the history that was made.
"I was the youngest female bypass in the world," said Treutelaar.
Forty-five years ago, on Oct. 18, 1974, at a time when only men were having bypass surgery, Treutelaar was a medical anomaly.
"I did have heart surgery," said Treutelaar. "I did have catherization first. That's when I coded. After that, they did do the bypass surgery. I had to have it redone in 1990."
She celebrated the 45th anniversary of the life-saving procedure on Oct. 18.
"This past Oct. 18, we all went out for dinner and had a fabulous time together," said Treutelaar. "I made a copy of that photo for each of them."
Featured on the news and in publications, her journey was one she uses to raise awareness.
"Don't think you are too young for heart disease," said Treutelaar. "Secondly, if you think you are misdiagnosed, don't give up. Keep investigating. Be aware of your health."
Now with four kids, three grandsons, and three great-granddaughters, Treutelaar's able to live her life with no complications -- and she's thriving.
"I don't care if it's raining, if it's cold, if it's cloudy," said Treutelaar. "Every day is a joy to me. I feel very blessed."
For more information about early detection and symptoms of heart disease, CLICK HERE.