She went a whole day not knowing she was having a heart attack. And she's not alone.
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Cigna 2017

Beatriz Martinez was exercising at the gym one day when she suddenly felt unusually breathless and a little dizzy and got a pain in her stomach.

She stopped and took a minute to breathe, which made her feel a little better. But the pain was still there. Maybe she had pushed herself too hard and pulled a muscle?

"I thought it was the exercises, a muscle ache," says Beatriz. So, she decided to call it quits for the day and drove home.


Beatriz Martinez in her home in Miami. Image via Beatriz Martinez, used with permission.

She made lunch, washed her hair, and went about the whole day like everything was normal — even though the dull ache in her stomach never really went away. That evening, she and her husband even went to a party. But at that point, the pain had gotten worse, and by the time they went home, she was vomiting and the pain had spread to her chest.

They went straight to the emergency room.

At the hospital, they ran some tests — and Beatriz was told she was having a heart attack.

One of the most important arteries in her heart, the left anterior descending (LAD), was completely blocked. "That I'm alive, it's like a miracle," she says.

She had a stent put in and she was in recovery at the hospital for six days before she was able to go home again.

Beatriz's story is not uncommon.

Heart disease is actually one of the most common causes of death for women in the United States. But in some cases, it can be prevented — which is why preventive health care is so important.

Image via iStock.

"What creates problems for people are the things that they don't know and therefore can't change," says Dr. Nicholas Gettas, a family doctor who is now a medical officer at Cigna.

With health issues, such as heart disease, it is the cumulative effect over time of risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, that can cause a problem — like a heart attack. That’s why it is important to be informed about your four health numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and body mass index (BMI).

Image via iStock.

Even if you eat well and exercise, it's still worth getting checked. "You might see a person who is thin, who exercises, whose diet appears to be great ... [but] there is some genetic issue that means that their cholesterol is still high," says Gettas. In fact, he adds, he had a patient with a similar experience.

"The earlier you identify, the earlier you can moderate and modify the issue and the more likely you are to get a better long-term result," he says.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if everyone got their recommended preventive care, we could probably save 100,000 lives in America every year.

Beatriz's experience taught her a lot about the importance of keeping an eye on her health.

Even at the hospital, when everyone was rushing around to treat her, Beatriz says she couldn't help but think they were overreacting because she still didn't think it was that serious.

"I never thought that I had anything wrong with my heart," Beatriz says. She had always thought of herself as healthy: She was active, she exercised regularly, and she wasn't overweight.

Image via iStock.

She was also unaware of something very important: The symptoms of a heart attack are often very different for women than they are for men.

Most of the heart attack indicators we hear about are actually what happens when men have a heart attack — such as the left arm going numb or the obvious severe chest pain. In women, heart attack symptoms can be more subtle, as Beatriz experienced:

  • The pain isn't always in the chest. It can be in the neck, jaw, upper back, or stomach region.
  • Sometimes it just feels like a bad case of indigestion.
  • Other times it just causes shortness of breath — which is sometimes mistaken as a panic attack — or dizziness.
  • It can also cause nausea and vomiting.

This means women are more likely to ignore their pain or downplay the symptoms, causing a dangerous delay in treatment that can be deadly. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, women often show up in emergency rooms after heart damage has already occurred.

Image via iStock.

But there are some warning signs — Beatriz just didn’t know to look for them.

"Before I had the heart attack, I felt breathless a lot and had pain in my jaw, but I didn’t pay attention to that because I didn’t know that was symptoms of your heart," she says. There was also a history of heart disease in her family, she adds, "but I never thought I was going to have it in my life. I never thought it would happen to me."

Beatriz wants other women to know the risk factors for heart disease before a health incident makes them all too aware of it.

She has gotten involved with the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and has become a WomenHeart Champion. She wants to spread awareness about heart health and the symptoms of heart disease to women across the United States. And she wants to encourage them to take control of their health before they ever get sick.

Image via Beatriz Martinez, used with permission.

It has been almost five years since Beatriz had her heart attack, and she says she's come a long way in terms of taking control of her health.

She started on medication and a special diet immediately after the heart attack. And now, not only does she go to the gym, but she also does aerobics three times a week, and she works with a personal trainer three hours a week. With the help of her doctor, she also keeps close tabs on her four health numbers. And now that Martinez has taken control, her health has never been better.

"I went to my cardiologist [recently] and he said that now, my cholesterol numbers are excellent, my blood sugar is excellent — my numbers are excellent," she says.

Beatriz says that the one thing her heart attack taught her was that she can’t become complacent about her health. "You can die if you don't take care of yourself," she says.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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