heart health awareness

There’s Beauty In A Healthy Heart

“You’re heart looks beautiful. The valves look great and everything is functioning exactly as it should.”

These were the magnificent words I heard from my cardiologist on February 3, 2016 when I had gone for my 5 month follow-up visit after having open heart surgery August 14, 2015. Yes, I said open heart surgery! This was necessary surgery to repair a Mitral Valve Prolapse that had worsened.

I am sharing this with you because February is the month of American Heart Health Awareness for women. While 1 in 29 women die of breast cancer, approximately 1 of every 3 women die of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Yet 80% is preventable! So I hope I have your attention. Whether you are a woman or man with female friends and family members, this subject is important.

I did not have all the typical indicators for heart disease, which are: overweight, lack of exercise, high cholesterol, and eating poorly. In fact, I am quite the opposite. I just happened to have had Mitral Valve Prolapse which I could not control or change. Mitral Valve Prolapse is common among women but most often does not require surgery. I am fortunate that my regular doctor had kept a very close watch on my mitral valve for years and when he heard changes through my regular visits, he acted right away. No wasting time. There was a need for surgery. But other women are not so lucky.

If you love yourself and care about other females in your life, I am asking you to be aware of the signs of heart problems. Females have different symptoms than males. My heart surgeon, Dr. Mark Gillinov, at the Cleveland Clinic (Ohio) wrote a comprehensive book called Heart 411: The Only Guide To Heart Health You’ll Ever Need. He has an entire chapter on the differences between females and males when it comes to the heart and symptoms.

Look for local events in your city this month that pay tribute and bring awareness to women’s heart health.

Thank you and wishing you heart health!

Joan Burge

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