Thank you for visiting! Why did I choose photos bursting with life for this website, instead of showing me tangled in IV tubes? Because I often need reminders that the sun also rises, and I suspect you do, too.
Let’s be honest:  It is tough being chronically ill. But illness is also  LIFE. Resist staying too long in “Why did this happen to me?” The more interesting questions are: What are you doing about it? 

What have you learned? How have you grown?

I am Deborah Daw Heffernan, an experienced cardiac patient and advocate. My website and book offer support and practical tips for fellow heart attack, SCAD, bypass, and heart transplant patients—especially women with heart disease. You may know me as the author of


A memoir of life, love, and surviving my first, near-fatal SCAD and heart attack, ARROW was originally published by Simon & Schuster in 2002. Featured that year on The Oprah Winfrey Show’s groundbreaking program about young women and heart disease, ARROW continues to be one of the few books published on women and heart disease. In 2015, I revised and updated ARROW for reissue by my new publisher, Open Road Media. Having gratefully received a heart transplant in 2006, today I am thriving with my lovely new heart—complications and all—the subject of my next book,​ PERFECT STRANGER. ​

My adventures in Cardiac Land have brought terror, hilarity, and pain, as well as speechless joy and crushing despair. In other words, mine is a story about life. Illness just happened to become my greatest teacher. You see, in striving to heal all of me—body, mind, and spirit—throughout multiple cardiac disasters, I have learned that illness can actually give life back to us. 

FOLLOW me on Facebook for notice of new tips and tools on this website and blog

Every month or so I’ll be adding more information to this website for living with cardiovascular disease and will announce anything new on Facebook. I only “Friend” people I actually know, so please click FOLLOW. I hope the information that I share with you on this website, on Facebook, and in my book(s) helps you on your own adventure of the heart, in all its meanings. 

First thing to understand: you are not alone

There is a lot of support available to you in the universe. The following sections within this page contain information and resources that you may need immediately, especially if you are a new resident in Cardiac Land.

I am an experienced cardiac patient: a survivor of two massive heart attacks (each caused by a spontaneous coronary artery dissection, or SCAD), a double bypass, angiograms, stents, ventricular tachycardia, two ICDs and EP testing, cardiomyopathy, supraventricular tachycardia, multiple cardio-conversions, a heart transplant, kidney failure, years of heart biopsies, dreary drug reactions, and a pseudoaneurysm (worse than it sounds). All this despite my relative youth, a lifetime of great health habits, and no family history of cardiovascular disease. 


I’ll be adding more information gradually, particularly on my blog (as I figure out what a blog is). “Follow” me on Facebook to receive notices of updates!

Available as an eBook at online retailers and at your local bookstore. All my book-related earnings are donated to cardiac causes. So, buy a book and save a life!


​​Your medical team is deeply invested in your life. They can best answer most of your questions. If they are not meeting your needs, switch doctors! Engaged and caring physicians do exist. (See YOUR MEDICAL NOTEBOOK under TIPS & TOOLS for how to keep notes in preparation for speaking with physicians.) I am alarmed by how many people turn to on-line chat communities first, rather than to their clinicians; for example, one patient posted a 2 a.m. description of her obvious heart attack symptoms and asked for advice from her chat group—instead of getting herself to a hospital! Please consult your doctors. The same goes for my suggestions. Just because something has worked for me does not mean it is for you. Our bodies are all different, and science and medicine are constantly changing. Your medical team has the latest information.