Heart disease has long been thought of as a men’s issue, when it is actually the leading cause of death in both men and women. In fact, since 1984, more American women than men have died of heart disease.
Women have the power to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke and the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign offers tips to set you on a heart-healthy path for life. Wear Red on Friday, Feb. 5 to show your support for better prevention, treatment and research of women’s heart disease.
Still need inspiration? Meet amazing women who are in the fight for their lives against heart disease.
“Better version” of herself
A few years ago, Jolette Munoz shared her story of hope and health after treatment for several heart issues that began in 2009. That’s when she suffered a heart attack, followed by triple bypass surgery to treat a 90 percent blockage in her left anterior descending (LAD) artery. She was also diagnosed with peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which required multiple stents for her leg arteries. Before treatment, poor circulation in her legs slowed her down.
Care teams at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center have helped Jolette make significant improvement in her quality of life. In November, she underwent an advanced stenting procedure that she calls “crazy phenomenal,” adding that, today she’s living a “better version” of herself.
LVAD patient living life in drive
Sharon Gillon might not be test-driving cars anymore, as she did during her career with Chrysler Corporation, but the 73-year-old is raring to go after having a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implanted in 2013. Sharon says the device has made a remarkable difference in her quality of life, which she now realizes began to decline nearly 15 years ago.
“I noticed some breathing issues in 2000 or possibly even before that, but I didn’t realize anything was wrong,” she says.
Sharon’s health continued to decline for the next few years when she was diagnosed with an arrhythmia, which led to a pacemaker, followed by a pacemaker/defibrillator. When her breathing worsened and required hospitalization, Sharon’s doctors determined her failing heart could be strengthened with the assistance of a heart device.
Following her surgery, Sharon says: “I got better and better every day. After six months, I was feeling better than I had felt in years. I can go out with my husband or even alone, and I have with lunch friends. I feel 10 times better than I felt back then.”
Take the next steps:
- Know your risk for heart disease.
- Learn more about the American Heart Association’s GoRedforWomen campaign.
- Meet three heart survivors advocating for women’s heart health.
The Women’s Heart Program at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a vibrant research and patient care program focused on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease — caring for women from their childbearing years through menopause and beyond. The comprehensive program includes cardiac rehabilitation, stress management, nutrition and exercise counseling and diagnostic testing.