Heart attack survivor shatters all stereotypes

Julie Bowald is not your typical heart attack survivor. Active, health-conscious and an overachiever, the vibrant mother of two shatters all stereotypes. Always on the go, Julie regularly worked long hours to build her successful real estate business while raising two teenage daughters with her husband Robert. Then, in May 2016, Julie’s world changed forever.

After a busy Memorial Day weekend, she woke up expecting it to be a normal day. But from the moment her feet touched the floor, she knew something wasn’t quite right. As the day went on, Julie found herself stumbling over words, feeling dizzy and struggling with overwhelming fatigue.

Convinced some rest was all she needed, Julie drove to her parents’ home nearby in Germantown Hills to rest.

“I called my dad and told him something was wrong with me,” Julie said.

Critical response

The minutes that followed were critical. Julie’s mother, Diane, was only minutes away, and the first to find Julie sitting alone in her car. Confused and in pain Julie said, “Mom, I think I might be having a heart attack.”

Diane called 9-1-1. Minutes later the Germantown Hills emergency medical team and the fire department loaded Julie into the ambulance.

“I remember feeling like a water hose had been turned on inside of me,” Julie said. “Now I know that it was because my arteries had burst.”

Within minutes of arriving at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Dr. John Rashid and his team began surgery. They worked to repair Julie’s coronary arteries that were virtually destroyed during the spontaneous coronary artery dissection heart attack she suffered.

‘God’s way of telling me to slow down’

Today, Julie is doing well. She continues to see Dr. Rashid and his team for follow-up care and learn more about this rare form of a heart attack.

Shaken by the experience, Julie’s family remains grateful for the experts that continue to watch over Julie’s health. She is a testament to the miracles performed each day by the OSF HealthCare Cardiovascular Institute. With a hopeful recovery on the horizon, Julie says her life will never be the same.

“Our whole family has a completely different outlook on life now,” Julie said. “It sounds cliché, but we take nothing for granted. It was God’s way of telling me to slow down, and I got a second chance because of Dr. Rashid. I can’t say thank you enough.”