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Share Your Story - Mavis Houk


The signs were not as obvious as 53 year old Mavis Houk thought they would be.  She didn’t have chest pains or numbness down her left arm. Her blood pressure had always been in the normal range. However, for several months Houk felt a little short of breath on her walks. And she did have the elephant in the room, family history.

In fact, all six of Houk’s siblings either had open heart surgery or stents by the time she started feeling short of breath on her walks. To air on the side of caution, Houk decided to tell her primary care physician what she was experiencing.  Her doctor recommended a stress test.

That stress test indicated there was a blockage of some form. Houk was recommended to Oklahoma Heart Institute cardiologist, Dr. Gregory Johnsen for an angiogram. The shortness of breath that led to the resulting angiogram, Houk says saved her life.

“I would not have survived,” Houk says of discovering two blockages at 95% and two at 70%. She had what is called the “Widow Maker”, an imminent and potentially fatal heart attack that presents little warning.

“I feel blessed that I listened to my body and family history and got it checked out,” Houk shares of her experience.

Though professionally Houk had a medical background as a surgical tech, she initially brushed off the warnings signs for a heart attack. Following a quadruple bypass surgery, Houk holds a special place in her heart for Oklahoma Heart Institute, even naming her cough buddy, Jason, after one of her nurses!  “They are the #1 hospital in Oklahoma for heart-related procedures,” she says.

“I feel like an overhauled engine,” Houk says following her 2010 heart surgery.  “I listened to my body and got answers.”

Today Houk enjoys fishing two to three times a week, taking the steep hill on the way to boathouse in stride and confident her heart is there to see her through.