Hollywood Open Heart Surgery Survivor Dancing, Biking Again

As American Heart Month begins, one woman tells her story of survival

View Comments ()



    As American Heart Month begins, one woman tells her story of survival. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012)

    Andie Dirienzio is a biker. She also loves to go fishing. Recently, open heart surgery slowed her down.

    In October she was out dancing with her boyfriend Alan Williams and didn’t feel well.

    Health Headlines Roundup

    [MI] Health Headlines Roundup
    NBC Miami’s Diana Gonzalez reports on news on a new study on statins, and a blood thinner approved by the FDA in 2010 that is now associated with an increased rink of heart attacks. (Published Monday, Jan. 9, 2012)

    “I had this shortness of breath. I didn’t have pains or anything, but out there and all of the sudden, I felt like there was a ton of bricks on my chest,” Dirienzio said.

    An angiogram at the Cleveland Clinic showed a blockage in her left anterior descending artery.

    Health Headlines Roundup

    [MI] Health Headlines Roundup
    NBC Miami's Diana Gonzalez reports on the latest health headlines. (Published Monday, Jan. 23, 2012)

    “They call that the widow maker and to me it’s like what? I was not really ready for that," she said.

    She already knew she had a bad valve. Her boyfriend could actually hear it.

    "If I put my ear to her chest and listened to her heartbeat, it’s a whoosh whoosh sound,” he said.

    Dirienzio's aortic valve needed to be replaced and she needed a double bypass. Williams proposed three days before her surgery.

    “The backdrop – downtown Miami. We were fishing at night and it was a surprise to her," he remembered.

    “I was crying and saying I can’t believe it," she said. "I wasn’t expecting that."

    Her surgery was Dec. 19.

    “Even though they prepared us for what to expect as far as the tubes and the machines and everything, when you finally see her it sets you back,” Williams recalled.

    Only six weeks later, Dirienzio got back on her Harley for the first time Wednesday for a quick ride around the block.

    “I went to a dance class. I’m ready to actually go fish," she said. "I really feel great."