When Charley Bednarsh, 72, started having severe back pain, she chalked it up to her active New York City lifestyle: she’s a mother and a grandmother, and still works full-time as a director at a social services center that helps victims of domestic abuse. But her dog, Atticus, knew better. When Charley collapsed in pain on the floor in her apartment one morning, Atticus—a trained therapy dog who hardly ever barks—howled relentlessly.
Atticus’s insistence convinced Charley to message her doctor, cardiologist Harmony R. Reynolds, MD, with details about her symptoms. She wondered if maybe she had contracted 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19). When Dr. Reynolds called her just minutes after receiving the message, Charley learned she was sicker than she realized, but COVID-19 was not to blame.
Charley was having a heart attack, but like many women, her symptoms were not the classic ones dramatized on television—the arm clutching, the severe chest pain. The dull backache and shortness of breath were red flags for Dr. Reynolds, an expert in heart disease in women and director of the Sarah Ross Soter Center for Women’s Cardiovascular Research at NYU Langone. She immediately brought Charley in for testing, and interventional cardiologist Michael J. Attubato, MD, confirmed that Charley needed a lifesaving angiogram and stent procedure to open her blocked artery and avoid further heart damage.
Because of COVID-19, Charley was initially apprehensive about going to the hospital. But when she arrived at NYU Langone’s Kimmel Pavilion, her fears disappeared. “From the nurses to the support staff to the cleaning crew, everyone was so lovely and respectful,” says Charley. “It was an amazing experience.”
Watch Charley’s story and learn how Dr. Reynolds and Dr. Attubato provided the lifesaving care that allowed Charley to return home to her family and, of course, her hero dog Atticus.