Kelsey Gumm was just a few weeks into Navy boot camp training, when she firstpassed out, She woke up in the back of an ambulance and doctors sent her on herway, after telling her she had overexerted herself and was dehydrated. Theseepisodes continued over the next ten years. But in 2014, Kelsey experienced anintense blackout. She couldn’t feel her arms and legs and a colleague commented on how gray she looked.
The nurse practitioner decided to put in acardiology consult. After twoechocardiograms and an EKG, thecardiologist turned to her and said: “PettyOfficer Gumm, I don’t know how to tellyou this, but your career in the Navy isover” and went on to explain that she hasa rare heart condition called leftventricular non-compaction. All of thefainting that she’d been experiencing wasventricular tachycardia, irregular heartrhythms that could have killed her.
Within a month of that doctor’s visit, Kelsey was medically retired from life in theNavy and had to learn to live with her new normal: life with heart disease. Sincethen, Kelsey has had a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted in her chest, visitswith her cardiologist regularly, and has found a new passion in biking.
Kelsey says: “with the help of the American Heart Association, I have learned tolive my life and not let heart disease hold me back.” She loves sharing her storyand encouraging other women to be an advocate for their health. When asked ifshe would go through all of this again, Kelsey’s response is: “in a minute, if I knewthat it was going to bring me to this point.”