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February 22, 2014

Event helps raise awareness of National Heart Health Month

JACKSONVILLE — Everyone probably has a lady in their lives they would describe as "all heart." Ironically, that's exactly the organ American women should take extra care of, according to local healthcare professionals.

Heart disease has been the number one killer of women in the U.S since the 1980s.

Two Jacksonville ladies -- both of whom had close brushes with heart disease -- were honored Thursday evening by members of Trinity Mother Frances Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital. The Women with Heart program, held at the Norman Activity Center, recognized February the women as part of National Heart Health month.

The evening included dinner, catered by Sadler's Kitchen, a style show, and a question-and-answer session with heart doctors.

Judy Calvert and Shannon Wilks both received recognition and shared their stories on their symptoms, diagnoses and recoveries of heart disease.

"We (the hospital and KYTX CBS19 television station in Tyler) received nominations and called for community votes during December," said Deb Taylor ,hospital Chief Nursing Officer and event emcee. "We received more than 3,500 votes for these ladies. Everyone knows someone whose life has been touched by heart disease, which continues to be the number one killer of American women."

The American Heart Association reports, heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases cause approximately half of all deaths in American women and one out of three women older than 65 has some form of heart disease.

"Heart attacks occur when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked by a buildup of plaque in coronary arteries," the AHA's website, www.goredforwomen.org, states. "As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. But it’s important to note that women are more likely to experience the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain."

Other symptoms of a heart attack in women, according to the AHA, includes uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back; pain or

discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach; shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort and other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

"That's why it's extremely important to educate yourself on this disease," Wilks told event goers. "I didn't listen to my body -- it was trying to tell me something was wrong. Don't make that mistake. It might kill you."

Wilks survived three heart attacks -- the first of which occurred which she was just 39 -- and had to have three stents placed in her heart where blockage had occurred. She said she remembers feeling just generally 'out-of-sorts' and extremely tired and rundown before seeking medical help.

Judy Calvert recalled she felt fine when she attended a life-changing Rotary meeting. That meeting's guest speaker happened to be Taylor.

"With my family history, I was concerned about heart disease -- I just didn't know I should have become concerned much sooner in life," she said with a laugh.

After speaking with Taylor, Calvert made appointments for a screening and other tests. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with triple vessel disease and had bypass surgery recently. She is now doing cardiac rehab and has no heart damage due to her actions and proactive screenings, according to hospital officials.

"This is something we should all be concerned about, right now," she said. "We can all do something to eliminate this disease. And we can do those things now, before all the bad stuff really starts!"

To learn more about preventing heart disease in both men and women or to donate research funds, visit the American Heart Association's website, www.heart.org. To find out more about the Trinity Mother Frances Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital in Tyler, visit www.tmfhs.org/heart-hospital.

 

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