Watch CBS News

Dallas Teacher Learns Tough Lesson in Heart Health

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - There's nothing worse than a broken heart, especially the one inside our bodies.

Once again, The American Heart Association asked the nation on Friday to "Go Red" to call attention to women's heart health. ​

"I refused to believe that something was wrong with me," says North Dallas High government teacher Christina Herrera.

Christina Herrera
Christina Herrera - North Dallas High School teacher (CBS 11)

Like so many people, Herrera's days were full.  Then her failing heart forced her to pay attention.​

"I was just so exhausted by the time I got the second floor, upset stomach, was sweating, just out of breath," recalls Herrera of a life-changing day almost two years ago.

Her school nurse insisted that she go to the hospital where tests determined that she had two arteries that were 75% blocked.

She'd ultimately undergo surgery for a triple bypass. All this after losing both her mom and younger sister to heart disease, complicated by diabetes.​

"You think you're doing better, better than the previous generation: I don't cook the way she cooked," says Herrera. "So I just didn't think that it was going to catch up to me."​

She now knows better and has since become a heart health ambassador.

On Friday she was proudly decked out in red and talking about the changes she's made in her life.​

"It's intentional. Everything that I do, keeping up with my workout routine, signing up for the next race, which gives me something to look forward to, making sure that everything I do is just not changing the way I'm feeling, but the way my son looks at food as well."​

According to the American Heart Association, chest pain and discomfort are still the most common heart attack symptoms in both men and women, but women are more likely to experience symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and pain in the jaw, back or arm.​

Herrera has healed and is sharing her journey now to hopefully nudge other women toward better self care as well.​

"If we're not here, our children are left alone. Our students are left alone," she said. "We have to come first."​

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.