Heart disease comes in many shapes and sizes. While the trials of heart disease can affect anyone—from infants to the elderly—a healthy diet, regular exercise, education on symptoms, and prevention can make all the difference in the world.
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Lorean Mays, American Heart Association Heart and Stroke Ambassador
“I became aware of the devastating effects of heart disease as a young girl. My uncle died at the age of 38 from a massive heart attack. Then, when my grandmother was in remission from breast cancer, she suffered a stroke. My mother also developed hypertension, otherwise known as high blood pressure.
“For the past five years, I have committed myself as the Heart and Stroke Ambassador for the American Heart Association not only to remembering my family in the fight against heart disease, but to sharing the importance of living a healthy lifestyle with young people. I, myself, have had my bout with high cholesterol, so I work out and eat a balanced diet in addition to being a mother to an active four-year-old.
“Through Power to End Stroke (PTES), an initiative that focuses on the African American community, I speak out on the warning signs for stroke, preventative methods (diet, exercise, mental health, etc.), the importance of knowing your family history, and ways people can get involved in the movement. To me, it’s about saving lives and helping people understand the importance of taking better care of themselves—mind, body, and spirit.”
Amy Phurrough (photo above)
“In 2009, after the birth of our son Cooper, I was diagnosed with post-partum cardiomyopathy, or pregnancy-induced heart failure. Being told that I have heart failure while having a 2-week-old infant was a moment I will never forget. I remember being so scared that I might not be able to do things with Cooper and be the active mom I wanted to be. But with medication, time, a lot of faith, and a great cardiologist and his staff, I have made a full recovery. I exercise faithfully and even completed a triathlon with my husband, Mark, in August of last year. We are so blessed to be expecting another baby due in June, and while there is a chance of it reoccurring, I am making all the lifestyle changes I can to minimize my risks, and I’m enthusiastic about working again with the same doctor who helped me after my first pregnancy.”
“I lost both my mother and grandmother to congestive heart failure, but I never thought it would happen to me. I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in November of 2008. I was 25 and in perfect health. It started with fatigue and tightness in my chest. I went to the E.R. for testing, and the results showed that my heart was enlarged and had an ejection fraction rate of 25% (amount of blood pumped with each heartbeat). The doctors decided it would be best for me to have an I.C.D. (implantable cardioverter defibrillator), and gave me less than six weeks to live. I was placed on the list for a heart transplant. I prayed for wellness and was blessed to receive a Miracle Heart on Memorial Day of 2009. It’s been three years since my transplant, and now I’m a full-time parent, loving and living life! This experience has made me see things in ways I never have.”
“At 47 years old, the last thing I thought about was a heart attack. With the exception of migraines—which I had suffered with since my teenage years—I was pretty healthy. Then while trying to board a plane for a business trip, my “heartburn” turned into a heart attack. I never dreamed the symptoms I had suffered were heart-related. I went to the doctor and found out that I had narrow blood vessels. I was also told to stop taking my migraine medicine immediately—it had temporarily constricted the blood vessels leading to my heart even more, and was not recommended for anyone at risk of heart disease. That was the scariest day of my life. Three years later, I have not had a migraine and my heart damage has healed.”
The American Heart Association is dedicated to building healthy lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke, through education, caregiver support, research, and development of health care professionals. Go Red for Women is a social initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health by equipping them with the knowledge necessary to lead healthy lives with healthy hearts.