Jayne Dickie details her triple bypass surgery at Mount Sinai South Nassau

Spreading the word about heart disease in women


Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S., and Merrick resident Jayne Dickie is trying her best to significantly lower those numbers.

Her efforts come after Dickie, 70, recently encountered a scare of her own with the disease, which is responsible for one in three deaths among women.

She told her story at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside on Feb. 2, as part of the hospital’s Go Red for Women event, promoting awareness of cardiovascular disease in women.

Dickie, a trim, petite woman who was a self-described gym rat in her younger days, eats mostly healthy foods, with occasional indulgences like potato chips.

The mother of five and grandmother of 11 said she felt perfectly healthy before she woke up in the middle of the night with what she thought was food poisoning, nine months before she visited her cardiologist. She vomited throughout the night, and when she looked in the mirror, she saw that her face was extremely flushed. At that point, she asked her husband to call an ambulance because she realized something was wrong, and she wanted to make sure she was taken directly into the emergency room.

The EMTs told her that her blood pressure was 203/140, which is considered a hypertensive crisis and a medical emergency, and she was rushed to NYU Langone Hospital in Mineola. Dickie was admitted to the hospital, but after six days, she was sent home with medication and a recommendation to see a cardiologist.

Dickie started taking the medication but stopped on her own, and never went to see a cardiologist. She admitted that she was in denial, and she still felt fine. But about nine months later, Dickie’s sister suffered a stroke, which was the push she needed to meet with a cardiologist.

During an appointment with cardiologist Dr. Sherry Megalla of Mount Sinai South Nassau, Dickie insisted that she did not want to take any medicine.

Megalla, seeing that Dickie’s cholesterol was high, ordered a calcium score test, which is used to determine possible plaque in the blood vessels. When these levels came back elevated, more tests were ordered, including a stress test. Dickie’s stress test revealed that blood flow was impeded on one side of her body, and she was shocked when she was told that she required triple bypass surgery which she underwent in Oct. 2022.

A two-time breast cancer survivor, Dickie had always kept up with medical appointments and her blood tests and blood pressure readings had always been good. She had no idea that heart disease ran in her family, later discovering that her two grandfathers and a 38-year-old cousin had all died of heart attacks.

“Women’s heart disease is under-recognized, underreported and undertreated,” Dr. Adhi Sharma, president of Mount Sinai South Nassau, said. “The symptoms are different and they may not recognize it, and they certainly need to make sure that they take care of themselves because they do such a great job of taking care of everyone else in their lives.”

Although the bypass surgery is performed at Mount Sinai in New York City, the patients’ prior and follow-up care is available at Mount Sinai South Nassau. A new hospital pavilion on Oceanside Road is scheduled for completion in June, featuring nine large operating rooms. After health department approval, which is expected to take about a year, open-heart surgeries can be performed there. Mount Sinai South Nassau’s current operating rooms are not large enough to hold all the equipment needed for open-heart surgery.

“Jayne’s story is such a strong reminder that an absence of cardiac symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean an absence of heart disease,” Dr. Megalla said.

Megalla added that some symptoms of obstructive coronary disease are the same in men and women, such as exertional chest pain and shortness of breath. When these symptoms are mild, patients may attribute them to not being fit and do less activity to compensate. However, women may also experience vomiting, such as Dickie did, extreme fatigue, exertional jaw pain or exertional left arm pain. Some women have severe flu-like symptoms that don’t go away.

Megalla recommended that women become physically active and keep tabs on their blood pressure, and their numbers from routine blood tests, such as cholesterol and sugar levels. When women hit menopause, risk factors for heart disease change because of a drop in estrogen, so that is a good time to get a cardiac checkup.

As part of the Feb. 2 event, the hospital provided free blood pressure screenings, cholesterol testing, and information on diabetes, smoking cessation and healthy eating and sleeping habits.

Since the surgery, Dicke said she is feeling back to normal, and was up walking around the day after the procedure