COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The end of February marks the end of American Heart Month, a national movement to bring awareness to the severity of heart disease – the leading cause of death in women in the United States.
Nearly every 30 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers from a cardiac event. And 24 years ago, I was one of them.
Barely in Kindergarten, I was diagnosed with SVT, which means at any given time my heart can beat dangerously fast. I’ve undergone two surgeries to help manage and live with my condition, but that isn’t always the case for women in the U.S.
“One in three women will die of some form of cardiovascular disease. It’s our nation’s number one killer,” said Brenda Houston, Executive Director of the Central Ohio American Heart Association.
After losing her mother to cardiovascular disease 26 years ago, Houston has been working ever since to educate women about the signs and symptoms of heart disease.
Women like Jackie Flinders.
“I had my first cardiac event was when I was 17, when I was playing softball,” said Flinders. But doctors told her it was a panic attack.
Flinders lived issue-free until she collapsed when she was 22. That’s when she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a genetic heart disease.
Had she known her family’s health history, Flinders said she could have sought treatment much sooner.
Now, she is waiting for a heart transplant.
When it comes to heart health, factors like age, gender, and family history are beyond anyone’s control, but there are steps you can take to minimize your risk.
“Seeing your doctor is a first step,” Houston said. “After that, diet and exercise. Move more, and be aware of your sodium intake. It’s important for women to be their own health advocate.”