Survivor at the Top of Her Game

WNBA and American Heart Association Pay Tribute

An avid distance runner, former aerobics instructor, and spinning enthusiast who enjoys a low-fat diet, Sandra Tremulis, 44, felt like she was at the top of her game five years ago. With such a healthy lifestyle, she couldn’t figure out why she was gaining weight and feeling fatigued. Her feet puffed up so badly a few times she had to take aspirin to reduce the swelling. She wondered why was she feeling so poorly when she was taking good care of herself. It didn’t make sense.

And then, during one of her regular five-mile runs, she not only felt wiped out, but noticed a tingling sensation in her chest. When she slowed down, the sensation disappeared. When she sped up, it returned. The combination of symptoms worried her, so she made an appointment with her regular family practitioner. That doctor couldn’t find anything wrong. Trusting her intuition, she sought a second opinion—a move that literally saved her life.

“It’s important that we listen to what our bodies are telling us,” Sandra says. “As women, we tend to put things off until it’s too late. We not only need to trust our intuition, but we need to act on it.”

The second appointment uncovered several abnormalities. Sandra was checked into the hospital the following morning, where an angiogram revealed a 95 percent blockage. A stent was placed in her proximal left anterior descending (LAD) artery, the main artery that feeds blood and oxygen to the heart. Her doctor told her he wasn’t quite sure how she was still alive—there was no blood flow to the left side of her heart. He also said that a strong family history contributed to her heart disease (her father, paternal grandmother, brother, aunt, cousin, and several uncles all have either died from heart disease or are currently battling it), but a lifetime of physical fitness kept her alive. She even went on to a deliver her first child in 2006—an uncommon situation for a woman with a stent. Today she feels great—and grateful.

“Before I was active and ate right because I thought it might be good for me,” says Sandra. “I really had no idea how absolutely critical diet and exercise were in preventing a catastrophic event from happening. My healthy lifestyle saved my life.”

For more information about Go Red For Women and how you can join the movement, call the American Heart Association at 952-278-3621 or visit

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement and the Minnesota Lynx share a common goal of encouraging women to take action in preventing heart disease. The partnership was evident on May 31 when
an enthusiastic crowd showed up at the Target Center for the second annual WNBA-Go Red For Women “In-Arena” night.

The color red was everywhere in order to promote the Go Red movement and make women aware that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States. Adding to all that red was a little bit of green—a silent auction, complete with autographed Lynx items, raised about $2,000 for the Go Red cause.

There was a short ceremony during a quarter break acknowledging the Twin Cities as the No. 1 Heart-Friendly designation. HealthEast, the Minneapolis–St. Paul “City Goes Red” sponsor, was honored for helping the Twin Cities metro achieve the No. 1 ranking, and volunteer Sandra Tremulis was honored for her efforts in promoting the cause with a signed WNBA-Go Red basketball.

Sandra is a spokesperson for the American Heart Association following her own experience with heart disease.