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San-Cap Heart Walk: Sandy Teger shares her daughter Allison’s survivor story

January 21, 2014
By SANDY TEGER ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

They told her she was "just anxious "

My daughter Allison was only 2-years-old when we discovered she had congenital heart defects. After we recovered from the shock, the pediatric cardiologist, my husband, and I made the decision to postpone surgery unless the condition seriously impacted her quality of life.

Fast-forward almost 40 years. Advances in heart research and surgery had radically improved the possibilities for new corrective techniques and the prognosis for a normal, medication-free life. But for Allison the path to surgery was not a straight one.

Article Photos

Sanibel resident Sandy Teger and her daughter Allison. PHOTO PROVIDED.

Her symptom started with palpitations, chest discomfort, and fatigue, and progressed to increasing dizzy spells and multiple instances of passing out. Consultations with several doctors led to conflicting diagnoses, ranging from minor to one indicating that immediate surgery should be performed. While waiting for an appointment with a recognized specialist, Ally had several trips to the emergency room. Each time she was told that she was overreacting and that she was experiencing a panic attack or reaction to stress.

What was really going on was a notable increase in the severity of her heart valve regurgitation and the size of the hole between her heart chambers.

Once competently diagnosed she had successful surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. She's now healthy and back to her career as a successful mental health counselor. Her experience has made her passionate about educating others and particularly women about heart disease. She knows from other people's stories that all too often women suspecting heart problems and seeking emergency treatment are told they are having a panic attack or just anxious from too much stress.

Fact Box

To Go:

What: First Annual Sanibel/Captiva Heart, Stroke & Wellness Walk

When: Festivities begin at 1 p.m., and the non-competitive, family-friendly 3.1-mile walk begins at 2 p.m., rain or shine.

Where: Bailey's Center, 2477 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island.

Why: Heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 4 killers of all Americans, respectively. The wellness walk will raise awareness for the American Heart Association's heart disease and stroke prevention efforts, as well as raise funds for lifesaving research, education and advocacy.

Admission: Your $50 donation includes a t-shirt.

More information: Visit or contact Lee County Heart Walk Director Molly Spain at 495-4901 or email The Heart Walk is sponsored nationally by Subway Restaurants and Jenny Craig.

Creating awareness and ongoing research are major functions of the American Heart Association's programs. They are the reason that Allison and I will be participating in Sanibel's first Heart, Stroke, Wellness Walk on Sunday, Feb. 9 at Bailey's Center. For more information, visit



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