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Women's Heart Health Awareness Luncheon

The Heart Society, BrightStar Care and The Pink Elephant sponsored a Women's Heart Health Awareness Luncheon on February 26th at the Gaston Country Club. The response was amazing with 88 women registering to attend. LeeAnn Harris, Programs Coordinator and Director of Run for the Money for the Community Foundation was the emcee.Deborah Ally, President of the United Way, provided the invocation.

Dr. Mark Heckel provided a very informative program. He covered statistics highlighting the prevalence of heart disease for females and gave practical information that we could all use to help reduce our cardiovascular risk: make healthy eating choices, exercise, don’t smoke, know your numbers: cholesterol (good and bad),triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar. He encouraged women who spend so much time as caregivers to take time to focus on their own health.

Chrisie Pierce shared her personal experience with sudden cardiac arrest. Chrisie describes herself as a typical 47 year old wife and mother of 2, with lots of commitments and stress, and not much time. On October 12, 2011 at 8:30am things were suddenly not typical. While leaving her daughter’s middle school, Chrisie suffered sudden cardiac arrest. Fortunately due to prompt CPR initiated by her husband Scot then followed by the school nurse, a call to EMS and the quick response from New Hope Volunteer Fire Department, Chrisie is here today to share her story.

In Chrisie’s words, this came out of the blue. She was a healthy and fit, with no known risk factors for heart disease. The only hint that something might be amiss was that for years she suffered from an accelerated heart rate. Her physician attributed it to panic attacks, which was the same diagnosis she received when she went for a second opinion. They told her not to be concerned. So every time she felt her heart rate speed up, she just ignored it. The rapid heart rate became her “norm”.

Chrisie now has an implanted defibrillator and takes medication to help prevent problems in the future. Otherwise she doesn’t suffer from any lasting health issues from the sudden cardiac arrest.

Chrisie’s message to women is simple. Please pay attention to what your body is telling you, and pursue help if you suspect anything is not right with your health. Her message to everyone is to learn CPR, because the life you save will most likely be that of a family member. She also strongly encourages all businesses and public places to have easily accessible AEDs, which increases the survival rate for victims of cardiac arrest.

So basically the take home message from Dr. Heckel and from Chrisie is simple: Know your body and if you suspect something isn’t quite right, make an appointment to see your physician. Take time to take care of yourself! Not bad advice for all of us, men and women alike!

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