Brenham woman shares life changing story to encourage heart health

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BRENHAM, Tex. (KBTX) - Shirley Prihoda was brushing her teeth one morning when a severe pain hit her chest.

"I've had three kids but I've never experienced the level of pain I was experiencing," said Prihoda. "It was mid sternum, and started as one sharp pain, then continued into constant pain."

She had suffered some heart problems before, eight years ago Shirley had a couple of Atrial Fibrillations. That's why she knew this was something different.

Her husband immediately drove her to an emergency room and after an EKG confirmed she was having a heart attack, Prihoda was taken to Baylor Scott and White Health in College Station.

"They grabbed the sheets to do the transfer and thats the last thing I remember," said Prihoda. "Because that's when I died. That's when my heart stopped."

She was gone long enough to remember how peaceful she felt.

"I had never felt so free, so euphoric, so wonderful as I felt in that moment," she explained.

As doctors worked to bring her back to life, Prihoda remembers the pain eventually slamming back into her chest. Though she's grateful, it leaves her with more questions that she's determined to answer.

"Every encounter I had here, it was outstanding. I mean, they brought me back to life so, it's hard to top that," she said with a laugh. "But you know, it's been a journey since this happened. A journey of wondering why I'm here, why I was chosen to come back."

She says she's taking every chance she gets to tell her story, and remind others that life is truly a gift.

"I don't know what my purpose is, but every door that opens for me, I'm walking through. If I can help someone else in any way, then I'm going to take that chance and do what I can," said Prihoda.

She also hopes that women specifically will go to get help if they experience sudden onset pain that could have any bearing on their heart health.

"I believe most women have a philosophy of toughing it out, working through the pain," said Prihoda. "My advice would be don't do that. Go see a doctor immediately. I'd rather be proven wrong, than proven dead."