Below Deck Mediterranean fans may not always like the drama that Captain Sandy Yawn brings to the show. She can be abrasive and has a particular management style that doesn’t always inspire confidence within her crew, but what Sandy has accomplished in her professional life is undeniably admirable.
Sandy is at the top of her field in a male dominated industry. She’s the captain of a super yacht cruising the Mediterranean year after year. And when Sandy sees potential in a member of her crew, she is ready to nurture their career advancement. She took Joao Franco under her wing in Season 4, followed by Malia White who is on her second season as Bosun. Sandy is definitely enthusiastic for the advancement of women in all ways, and that includes spreading knowledge about health issues.
It was well-documented when Sandy suffered a heart attack just shy of her 50th birthday. She was in a SoulCycle class when the symptoms came on. “I felt like I couldn’t swallow, and then I felt like, ‘This isn’t normal,’ and I noticed my heart rate wasn’t going down — it was going up,” Sandy explained during an interview with TODAY.
Thanks to information from a cardiologist friend, Sandy was aware of the lesser known symptoms of a heart attack, such as changes in your ability to exercise or confusing it with symptoms of panic. As she traveled by Uber to the hospital, her left arm started going numb.
Taking advice from her friend, Sandy used specific wording to avoid unnecessary testing at the hospital. She said, “you walk up, and you say, ‘I’m having a heart attack. I need an EKG now.'”
Once stabilized, it was discovered that the Bravo-lebrity captain had suffered a spontaneous coronary artery dissection. SCAD is a tear in the artery wall that, while rare, appears more frequently in postpartum women. The American Heart Association revealed that patients of SCAD frequently have no prior risk factors for heart disease.
In her darkest moments, Sandy recalled, “I kept saying, ‘I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die,’ and I’ll never forget, you’re supposed to have instant relief if they put a stent in, but they couldn’t put a stent in because I had a tear. So I didn’t have instant relief. I was in pain. I stayed in the hospital four days.”
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After additional tests, Sandy was diagnosed with high blood pressure. She learned that “extreme exercise” paired with this “silent killer for women” and the Adderall she recently started taking created a perfect storm leading up to the heart attack.
“Learn the signs,” Sandy explained, “learn your numbers, your blood pressure. Learn those numbers, and do the self-checks. And if you have a feeling … and it doesn’t feel right, it’s off, listen to that, and just go to the hospital.
Sandy’s parents, both smokers, died of heart attacks, and she doesn’t want to be part of the statistics. So she adopted a more healthy lifestyle, “I eat more oatmeal — anything with a heart on it, I eat it, you know, in the store. if it says ‘heart health,’ I believe it. … I eat like that. I don’t have high cholesterol, I don’t have any blockage in my veins at all.”
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Sandy exercises regularly as well, even on charter. Her job keeps her active and on her feet, but Sandy keeps an exercise ball in her cabin as well. Pushups and situps are part of her routine as well. She adheres to her workout regime, but admits its not easy. “Honestly, you’re exhausted at the end of the day,” she said. “It is not easy to exercise. A lot of these boats have gyms, if you have the energy to go in one, and swimming — jumping in the water and doing a lap. If it’s just 30 minutes a day, I’ll do it. I do it in my room, or I go swim.”
Thankfully, despite the SCAD incident, Sandy’s “heart is great.” So she can continue doing what she loves best.
RELATED: Captain Sandy Yawn Shades Captain Lee Rosbach For How He Reprimanded Delores Last Season On Below Deck
TELL US- WHAT DO YOU THINK OF SANDY’S STORY? WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT HER SHARING IT?
[Photo Credit: Bravo]