Heart disease is the number one killer of women. In many cases it can be prevented if you take care of yourself and live a healthy lifestyle.
You can't do that if you're born with a congenital heart defect like a Pasadena family, but they are sharing their story in hopes of reaching those who can prevent it.
"I was angry, depressed, couldn't believe it happened to me," says Barbara Copeland.
A wake up call that's how Barbara described her cardiac arrest. Later she learned it would change her life, and that of her 2-year-old Olivia.
14-years ago, at 37, Copeland ended up in a coma for weeks after surviving a massive heart attack. When she came to, a test revealed she had a long QT, a rare, inborn heart condition that can be passed from on generation to the next.
"The scary part about a long QT is that you are like a walking time bomb," Copeland said.
Genetic testing years later showed Olivia had it too, and like her mom would need a defibrillator the rest of her life.
The tears flow as teh 16-year-old thinks of how her classmates make fun of her for her heart disease and her implanted device.
"They don't know they really can't tell unless I tell them and they're like 'I'm sorry oh my God.'"
Olivia is a ballerina who hopes to become a forensic scientist.
Olivia and her mom are now on a mission. "We can be advocates for the American Heart Association. We can teach others about heart awareness, heat issues," says Barbara.
Olivia says "people need to be aware. They need to know what the signs are."
Olivia and Barbara didn't have warning signs, but were fortunate enough to live to share their story.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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