Heart to Heart for women
Nancy Johnson of Traverse City is active in her community. She's the coordinator of a local food pantry and even volunteers at area events. Plus, she makes sure to stay physically in shape. "Always some kind of exercise, whether it's indoors or outdoors," says Johnson.
It was actually about a month after one her favorite activities, a bike tour from Lansing to St. Ignace that Johnson suffered a heart attack 14 years ago.
"I went to bed and felt very bad. I realized after a couple of hours that something was very wrong. So, we called an ambulance. To the best of everybody's knowledge I had the heart attack sometime in between the ambulance and going to the hospital," says Johnson.
Heart disease runs on both sides of Johnson's family. In fact, her father died of a heart attack when he was only 58. Johnson was 52 when she had her attack. Plus, this past Memorial weekend Johnson had surgery after her doctor did a heart catheterization and found a problem.
"I was having problems breathing, particularly in the winter. It just continued into the spring," says Johnson.
Now Johnson comes to Munson's cardiac rehab two days a week and also does water aerobics to stay physically active.
Mary McManemy is the coordinator of Munson's cardiac rehab. She says women as young as 20 years get screened at least once a year to know their risk factors, especially since women's symptoms are so vague.
"They might have the classic chest discomfort but they may have more atypical symptoms such as extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, activity intolerance and they don't realize it's their heart," says McManemy.
The Munson Heart to Heart screenings take about one hour and results are immediate.
"Women meet one on one with our cardiac rehab staff. It's very comprehensive. We get all the numbers, we get results right then and there. they get an action plan of preventing a cardiac event," says McManemy.
McManemy says with heart disease being the number one killer of women, symptoms can be deceiving, which is why all women need to take the disease seriously.
"It may be hereditary and they don't know that some of their numbers are off and at-risk factors for heart disease. maybe they don't smoke and eat healthy, but don't realize their blood lipids could be off," says McManemy.
"Do the best you can to prevent it and get regular screenings. We don't know what will happen, just try to prevent it," says Johnson.
Johnson does this on a regular basis and she's not giving up anytime soon.
"I look at this as, 'Oh I've recovered, lets get going'...I'm not going to sit back and watch the world go by," says Johnson.
For those who can't afford the Heart to Heart screenings, there are grants available through Munson's Cardiac Care Fund. The money is being raised through community events that promote heart disease awareness all month long.
For a complete list of these events taking place check click here.