Heart disease doesn’t discriminate | SkyHiNews.com

Heart disease doesn’t discriminate

Stephanie Hammar of Granby, a WomenHeart Champion.

More information on WomanHeart

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90 percent of the adult population has a risk factor and doesn’t know it

80 percent of risk factors are preventable

One in three people are living with heart disease and don't know it, according to Stephanie Hammar of Granby, a WomenHeart Champion.

WomenHeart is a national coalition of woman with heart disease and was started by three women who had heart attacks in their 40s. They faced obstacles such as misdiagnosis, inadequate treatment, and social isolation. Hammar is part of this organization that educates the community to raise awareness about heart disease.

Women die more often and are under diagnosed, said Hammar.

"Heart disease kills more than cancers combined. Cancer has so much awareness and heart health is still trying to get more awareness," Hammer said. Hammer says she is doing as much as she can to raise awareness.

As a heart disease survivor Hammar is an advocate and spends her time, particularly in February but year-round, educating the public. When she had her first heart attack and a stent placed in her coronary artery she was a healthy athlete who climbed mountains. Since then she has had seven heart attacks, seven stents and an implanted defibrillator, all within seven years. Now her activity is limited but she is alive.

In 2010 she was accepted into the five-day training class at WomenHeart, which included media training and how to give presentations to groups.

"We learned how to tell our story and how to keep reporters on track," she said.

"We were taught how to know our audience and how to speak to them. I spread the news nation-wide for patients, women interested in educating their community and run support groups."

She gives presentations to groups of every age all year long and materials are free. Programs include Heart Bingo and Wellness at Work; all geared toward men and women. She makes her programs fun and interactive.

What is the number one thing woman in Grand County need to know

"That heart disease is their number one health risk," Hammar said.

"Trust you instinct, but take care of your health now."

There are several ways to have a heart attack. There can be valve issue or stress induced issues. People in their 20s could have heart disease.

"Don't write off symptoms."

What is American Heart Month

American Heart Month aims to raise awareness, educate the community, and help people towards living a healthy lifestyle to prevent heart disease. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Statistics show that one in four deaths are due to heart disease (The Heart Foundation, 2017). More women will die per year of heart disease than all cancers combined. Every 60 seconds a woman will have a heart attack.

Heart disease problems include heart attack, stroke, heart failure, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), and heart valve problems. Many of these problems can be related to atherosclerosis which is a condition that develops when plaque builds up on the artery walls (arteries supply blood to the heart). Over time, as plaque keeps building up, the arteries become narrower and narrower making it harder for blood to properly flow throughout the body (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).

What you can do

Stop smoking, exercise, eat better, manage stress.