BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — February is Heart Month and a misdiagnosis nearly cost a Brevard County woman her life.

What You Need To Know

  • Gail Romanini was misdiagnosed with chronic acid reflux and heartburn

  • But what she really had was a heart condition: three blocked arteries

  • A doctor said that women experience different heart-problem symptoms than men

To say Gail Romanini is a proud grandmother would be an understatement. She says playing card games with her four grandchildren is the highlight of her day.

Proof is the scribbles on the chalkboard in her kitchen.

“They are 2, 3, 6 and 25. ‘GG’ ‘Grandma Gail,’ it’s all over the board,” Romanini said.

She says being GG is the best job in the world and she was made for it.

“Spoiling them and loving them is what I love to do most,” she said with a smile.

But for the past several years, the 67-year-old — a retired registered nurse — has struggled with her health.

Doctors told her she suffered from chronic acid reflux and heartburn, also known as GERD.

She took meds to ward it off. But one day in 2022, her condition came to a tipping point.

Her gastroenterologist insisted she see a cardiologist for an exam.

“I just had a lot of shortness of breath, and I had what I thought was GERD. In fact, when I saw Dr. Campbell and he said, ‘You don’t have GERD.’ I said, ‘I do, I’ve had it for seven years.’ And he said, ‘It’s not GERD. I didn’t believe him.’ He was literally walking me to the parking lot trying to convince me,” she said.

Dr. Kevin Campbell is a health first cardiologist who Romanini was consulting with on her problem.

Quickly, the doctor learned she had three blocked arteries and needed to have open heart surgery right away.

It was a success, and he wants everyone to know that each year more women die of coronary artery disease than men.

“The problem with women is their symptoms are different. So instead of having chest pain, arm and neck pain, they may just have a feeling of dread, fatigue. You may feel pain in your back, you may be short of breath. Very atypical,” Campbell explained.

That is exactly what Romanini was experiencing. She wants women to always question the care they receive.

“Even as a nurse, I didn’t know to ask those questions or question the doctors that treated me all those years,” Romanini said.

She and her husband Steve are now more active than ever. She regrets not getting the proper help instead of suffering all those years.

They’ve traveled the world, and now that’s she’s healthy, it’s time to see even more.

“I have a bucket list. Steve and I are working it off one at a time, so I can do all the things I wanted to do,” Romanini said, including more time with her grandkids.

According to the CDC, coronary heart disease was responsible for the deaths of more than 300,000 women in 2021.