Wholeheartedly fighting heart diseasePatty Brown’s mom, Betty Strong, ate a healthy diet and was fairly active, so it came as quite a shock when her family learned she had heart disease 12 years ago.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Patty Brown’s mom, Betty Strong, ate a healthy diet and was fairly active, so it came as quite a shock when her family learned she had heart disease 12 years ago.
“She would not be your typical heart patient,” Brown said. “We figured, well, she’s doing all the right things.”
But in November of 2000, Strong suffered a heart attack — which doctors referred to as an episode. Major blockage was found in her heart and two stents were put in place as a result.
Just one month later, Strong woke up not feeling well. She was displaying flu-like symptoms and knew something wasn’t right so she decided it was time for a trip to the hospital.
“And on the way to the hospital, she died,” Brown said. “Typical Mom, never really said too much about her health, was always concerned about Dad’s.”
Heart disease can sneak up on people, so the American Heart Association is hoping to bring awareness to the No. 1 killer of women by hosting National Wear Red Day on Feb. 3. The disease causes the death of one in three women each year — more than all forms of cancer combined.
“That’s a fact that astonished me. You always think it’s breast cancer because that gets the most publicity,” Brown said.
Donning red is just one aspect of the AHA’s campaign, Go Red for Women. People are also encouraged to network together, spread the word about heart disease and join in the fight alongside the American Heart Association.
“Tell five women you want them to live and, together, we can end this deadly disease,” AHA Chief Executive Officer Nancy Brown said in a statement.
Knowing the risk factors is a big part of avoiding heart disease. Controllable factors include lowering cholesterol, reducing high blood pressure, maintaining a normal body mass index and becoming physically active.
Several of those factors can be helped by simply eating a healthy diet.
“Eating foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in fiber can help prevent high blood cholesterol,” Fairview Red Wing Health Services explained. “Limiting salt or sodium in your diet can also lower your blood pressure.”
In addition to maintaining an average weight through healthy eating, regular exercise is highly encouraged. Engaging in any amount of physical activity is better than nothing, but the surgeon general recommends aiming for 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise on most days of the week.
While a lot of the contributing factors of heart disease are in the hands of each individual, others — such as age, gender and heredity — can’t be controlled. As a result, heart disease can be surprising to those who suddenly have it, much like Brown’s mom.
“I still miss her every day.”
Signs of a heart attack:
A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually by a blood clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die.
The following are signs of a possible heart attack:
• Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It 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
• Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
• As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, vomiting and back or jaw pain.
Red Wing has several events scheduled for Heart Month.
Blood pressure checks
Student nurses from Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical will be available to measure people’s blood pressure at the following times and locations throughout the month:
• 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Red Wing Family YMCA
• 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Red Wing Area Senior Center
• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Red Wing Public Library
• 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 24 at Econo Foods West.
There is no cost to attend any of the checks.
Go Red for Women
Men, women and children are urged to wear red on Friday, Go Red for Women Day.
The Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce will kick off the day with its AM Expresso at Deer Crest. People who attend at 7:30 a.m. and forget to wear red will receive a red “dress” pin.