Crystal Ching has no family history of heart disease. She is under 50. Her cholesterol is low. She maintains a healthy weight.
Yet she has heart disease.
“Suddenly one day I was overwhelmed by fatigue, upper body pain and nausea,” says the owner of a Sacramento pet products company.
“When my husband said I could be having a heart attack, I told him it was impossible because I was too young.”
But heart disease symptoms in women can be subtle and unique, and often go under-recognized.
Sure enough, a physician friend of Crystal’s was not satisfied with her initial diagnosis of heartburn at a Sacramento hospital. He provided a prescription for a stress test, which can evaluate the heart’s response to varying levels of exertion.
One of her customers passed along the phone number for cardiology at UC Davis Medical Center, home to the nation’s first program dedicated to treating and preventing cardiovascular conditions in women.
Although Charles “Charlie” Fullerton’s heart aches when he remembers his late wife of 55 years, Pat, he feels proud knowing he is pursuing their shared vision—a commitment to finding solutions to chronic pain.
Pat, who captured Charlie’s heart after his return from World War II, began suffering chronic pain from arthritis soon after Charlie retired.
The constant throbbing and sharp jolts of agony that Pat suffered in her joints every time she moved instilled within the couple a common mission: find better pain-management solutions.
In Pat’s memory, Fullerton funded scholarships to support students at the UC Davis Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing interested in pain management. During The Campaign for UC Davis, he also created the Charles and Patricia Fullerton Endowed Chair in Pain Medicine to advance patient care, education and research on all aspects of pain management.
When asked why he gives to UC Davis in this way, Fullerton said, “This is what Pat and I wanted to do.”