Las Vegas Sun

November 19, 2017

Currently: 55° — Complete forecast

Editorial: An unexpected death

Kathy Augustine's death at age 50 underscores how quickly and suddenly life can pass.

Augustine, who had been impeached as Nevada's state controller, died in Washoe Medical Center on Tuesday after having suffered a heart attack at her Reno home early Saturday.

The Nevada Assembly impeached Augustine in 2004 on three counts of campaign ethics violations. Despite her conviction by the Senate on one of the three counts - Augustine was censured by the Senate but not removed from office - she vowed to finish her second term and was in the midst of a campaign for state treasurer when she died. Gov. Kenny Guinn on Wednesday appointed Steve Martin, a candidate for controller in the upcoming election, as Augustine's successor.

Funeral services for her are scheduled Saturday in Las Vegas.

Augustine's family, friends and some of her political colleagues have spoken of how she persevered through the stress caused by impeachment and this year's political campaign. But Augustine's husband also mentioned that she had complained of stomach pains and heartburn in the days before the heart attack. These symptoms, although expected during times of stress for many people, are also often signs for women that they either are about to suffer, or are experiencing, a heart attack.

The American Heart Association, Heart Healthy Women and other health organizations cite numerous studies illustrating that while men typically experience chest pains, high percentages of women who have heart attacks instead experience stomachaches, heartburn, backaches and nausea. Heart disease kills 12 times as many women as breast cancer, yet many women don't even know how to recognize that they have suffered a heart attack.

In February, women lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate proposed the bipartisan HEART for Women Act, which would require gender-based reporting and analysis of heart disease and improve screenings for low-income and uninsured women. Perhaps greater awareness of the symptoms will help to prevent another woman's family from suffering the grief that Augustine's is enduring.