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Three Women from New Jersey

Each woman has heart disease. Each had to advocate for herself in order to receive the vital care she needed. Each had a positive outcome. Learn what each women did in order to survive.

Jean     JEAN: AGE 59
"For three mornings in a row, I awoke with nausea and weakness. And I had a funny feeling in my chest. The fourth day, I began retching uncontrollably. That's when I knew it was my heart. I called 9-1-1 and went to the best heart center where I received emergency angioplasty, but I had to insist on an EKG. 70% of women have heart attacks without any chest pain at all. Listen to your body. Trust your instincts."

Cindy     CINDY: AGE 37
"I was 5 months pregnant with my fourth child when I found myself paralyzed on the right side and unable to talk. I was having a stroke. My ten-year-old daughter called 9-1-1 and it saved my life. Before becoming pregnant, I had warning signs or "TIAs", but the doctors couldn't find anything wrong. After my stroke, I was determined to recover and take care of my new infant son and family. Black Americans are especially at risk for stroke. Know the warning signs of stroke and work closely with your doctor to control high blood pressure."

Bev     BEVERLY: AGE 47
"I was tired all the time. My gynecologist blamed it on being peri-menopausal and recommended estrogen., but I declined because of a history of breast cancer in my family. I had put on a lot of weight and suspected my thyroid was the problem, so I saw an endocrinologist for a second opinion. I had gained weight but didn't know why as I was always careful about what I ate. I was placed on a diet.

"Both doctors knew of my family history... two parents who had triple bypass surgery; a blood cholesterol of 260 with abnormal LDL/HDL ratio and a history of taking a cholesterol-lowering drug since the age of 41.. I was completely exhausted and worried if I could continue working. It felt like the life was draining right out of me. Then one day, when I was walking my dog, I got this burning sensation in my throat that frightened me. I called my doctor and he saw me right away. He said that my symptoms were related to angina. I had a thallium stress test and then, a heart catheterization found a 90% blockage of my left anterior descending artery. I had an angioplasty before suffering permanent damage to my heart. It took me a full year to get a diagnosis. My weight gain was due to fluid retention. I am grateful to be alive."

Talk to Your Health Professional About Your Risk

Know the risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, being overweight, being physically inactive, being 7+ years post-menopausal and having a family history of early heart disease. Take this sheet with you to your next medical appointment."

Questions to Ask

  1. What is my risk for heart disease?
  2. What screening or diagnostic test for heart disease do I need?
  3. What are my numbers and what do they mean?
    • Blood pressure
    • Cholesterol- total cholesterol, LDL ("bad") cholesterol, HDL ("good") cholesterol, and triglycerides
    • Body mass index and waist circumference
    • Blood sugar level (could indicate risk for diabetes)
  4. What can you do to help me quit smoking?
  5. How much physical activity do I need to help protect my heart?
  6. What is a heart healthy eating plan for me?

Heart disease is the #1 killer of women, regardless of race or ethnicity, and accounts for a third of all deaths among women. It also strikes at younger ages than most people think, and the risk rises in middle age. Heart disease can diminish health, well-being, and the abililty to do even simple activities like climbing stairs. The fact is, it can decrease your entire quality of life. Two-thirds fo women who have heart attacks never fully recover. And, if you have a heart attack, your risk of having another increases.

Act now to protect your heart.

Alcohol and Heart Disease |  Gender Differences |  Mitral Valve Prolapse |  Women’s Heart Risk Quiz Sleep Disturbances: Heart at Risk |  What is Heart Disease? |  Cardiac Arrhythmia Management in Women |  Heart Disease Facts |  Panic Attack or Heart Attack |  Three Women from New Jersey  |  Noreen  | 

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1999-2000; updates: 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 Women's Heart Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited. The information contained in this Women's Heart Foundation (WHF) Web site is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment, and WHF recommends consultation with your doctor or health care professional.