Heart disease is the number one killer in Louisiana and in America. Heart disease does not discriminate against age, race or gender. Heart disease kills more women each year than all forms of cancer combined. Unfortunately, the killer isn’t easy to see. Heart disease is often silent, hidden and misunderstood.
Go Red for Women is not a campaign. It is a movement towards a healthier community in which women understand and take action in the prevention of heart disease. In the 10 years following the launch of the Go Red for Women movement, more than 627,000 women’s lives have been saved from cardiovascular diseases; that’s 330 lives saved per day or a total decrease in death by 34 percent.
In addition to the lives saved the awareness of heart disease as the No 1 killer of women has also increased by 23 percent. These are heroic efforts to save the lives of the women you love. But the work is not done; it is still just beginning. The American Heart Association is working each and every day to improve the health of the women of New Orleans.
Heart disease rocked Kayci Reyer’s world for six years before she sought another opinion that dramatically changed her life.
It began one night in high school when she awoke to her heart racing. When deep breaths didn’t slow it down, her mother took her to the ER.
At 265 beats per minute, her heart was beating dangerously fast, so the doctor gave her a shot to stop and reset it. She returned home with no medicine or instructions, sharing the doctor’s opinion that it was a fluke, one-time event.
Four weeks later, she returned to the ER with the same symptoms. This time, following another shot to stop her heart temporarily, a cardiologist gave her a prescription to help manage supraventricular tachycardia, a condition where the heart suddenly starts beating too quickly.
For the next six years, Kayci had several minor episodes and only a few major ones when her rapid heart rate required going to the hospital, but she felt her quality of life declined.
“I avoided many activities I used to do because I was so afraid of having another episode,” Kayci says. “I gave up soccer, didn’t exercise much and began to feel so much older than I actually was.”
Kayci gained 60 pounds from her lack of activity, and suffered from low energy because the medicine kept her heart rate so low. As a college student, she avoided many typical student activities.
“I was afraid to go out and do things and would panic if I didn’t have my medicine with me,” she says. “I didn’t want to burden my new friends with my condition or ask them to look out for me if I had one of my episodes.”
Finally tired of missing out on life, Kayci sought another cardiologist’s opinion when she transferred colleges after her freshman year. This cardiologist immediately recommended a procedure to treat her rapid heart, something others had ruled out because she was so young.
The procedure was a success, and Kayci’s life changed immediately. Full of energy and no longer fearful, Kayci began exercising again. She ran a few 5Ks and started practicing yoga. She has lost 95 pounds since the February 2011 surgery and has become an outspoken advocate for heart health.
“Though I had a specific condition to deal with, this taught me that we take our hearts for granted and assume we will always be healthy,” Kayci says. “I remind my friends that we are young now but heart problems can happen to all of us down the road if we don’t take care of ourselves.”
Now Kayci, who’s active with the New Orleans American Heart Association, counsels other young women to take charge of their health before it’s too late. Her advice? Speak up and seek another opinion if something doesn’t feel right.
“My outcome was eventually positive, but I believe I was dismissed at first because I was a young woman,” she says. “I learned the importance of going with my gut, and I’m so happy I finally spoke up for myself.”
JOIN THE FIGHT
Each day the American Heart Association is working on research to better understand and prevent heart disease. Join the movement by participating in the Go Red campaign to take a stand on heart disease. The New Orleans American Heart Association will host the annual Go Red for Women luncheon on Thursday, February 13 at the Sheraton New Orleans.
On Friday, February 7, the American Heart Association will celebrate National Wear Red Day. On this day we are asking the New Orleans community to show their support by wearing red throughout the day.
The Go Red for Women campaign is more than a message. It’s a nationwide movement that celebrates the energy, passion and power we have as woman to band together to wipe out the No. 1 killer. Grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends are dying at the rate of one per minute, because they don’t know that heart disease kills.
Through awareness and prevention, heart disease can be prevented. Heart disease has already touched you or someone you love, so help us save a woman’s life and be a part of Go Red for Women New Orleans.
Go Red for Woman is sponsored by Macy’s, UnitedHealthcare, Peoples Health, Paris Parker and Tulane Medical Center. For more information visit Heart.org or the New Orleans American Heart Association on Facebook, facebook.com/AHANewOrleans.