February is Heart Health Awareness Month

This is Close to My Heart

As COVID 19 continues to take up space in almost every conversation, other health issues are still present. Among women, heart disease is the leading cause of death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it kills about 1 in 5 women a year. My family has a history of heart disease. My grandmother and my mother have both lived with a form of Atrial Fibrillation, an irregular heart rate that can lead to blood clots, stroke, or other heart-related complications. I exercise daily and watch what I eat in the hope of preventing heart disease for myself.

A former colleague that I had lost touch with texted me the other day. We caught up, and we spoke for a long time. She let me know about her career move and how she had just had open-heart surgery. My heart sank. She’s close to my age and is a mother of two “twenty-something” daughters. She mentioned that she started to experience anxiety and panic attacks since the move to the new job. Although she was repeatedly told her anxiety was the cause, she sensed there was something else at play each time she visited the emergency room.

She was walking on the beach near St. Augustine and looked down to find a shell that resembled the heart organ. She took this as a sign from God that she needed to find a specialist who would listen.

She traveled to the well-known Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. It was confirmed she had an Aortic Aneurysm – a bulge in the Aorta, that if it goes untreated, could rupture.  Although she was unaware of it, she was born with a Bicuspid Aortic Valve. Often, this heart defect goes unnoticed until it is too late.

Heart Disease is real and misdiagnosed in women every day. Listen to your instincts when you sense something is wrong, and follow your heart.

Written by Joy Sexton, Benefits Consultant, Sapoznik Insurance