PIQUA — When Stephanie Kaiser felt intense pressure in her chest, she knew something wasn’t right.
As she faced a busy day of family activities, Kaiser had to decide which “voice” to listen to – the one saying it was a heart problem or the one saying she had a birthday cake to bake and other tasks to handle.
A nurse at Upper Valley Medical Center, Kaiser had her husband call 9-1-1. Nearly a year later, she shared her story at the 2017 Go Red Goes North event, Sept. 8, in the Fort Piqua Plaza.
Kaiser knows she made the right call. After doctors found an 80 percent blockage and inserted a stent, she found aggravations from before – fatigue at day’s end, pain across the back, tension headaches and a stiff neck – were gone.
“It’s important to pay attention to your symptoms,” Kaiser said. Never a fan of exercise, she said she is taking small steps toward building an exercise routine. “If I can exercise two to three times a week, you can, too,” she said.
Those involved with the Go Red campaign of the American Heart Association advocate for education, awareness, research and quicker action against heart disease in women, said Ronda Fogt, of NK Parts Industries Inc. of Sidney and 2017 Go Red Goes North event chairwoman.
One in three women dies of heart disease or stroke and 90 percent of all women have at least one risk factor of heart disease. Some factors cannot be controlled such as genetics, family history, race and aging. However, 80 percent of heart disease cases and strokes are preventable, Fogt said, if women learn to manage risk factors under their control such as smoking, weight, physical activity and diabetes.
“We are here to save lives,” said Fogt.
Becky Rice, president of Upper Valley Medical Center, representing event signature sponsor Premier Health, spoke briefly about the loss of her husband to a heart attack and her sister to heart disease as well as her personal pledge to get healthier
Rice said she has learned a lot about herself and others as well as how to take control of what can be controlled in one’s health. “Education and awareness, and action” are important in those efforts, Rice said.
The Go Red keynote speaker was Julia Wilkes, of Columbus, who told the crowd of 185 how she overcame what doctors said was a terminal heart condition at birth to thrive into adulthood. Although she was limited in activities as a child because of the condition, she saw her survival as a second chance at life.
A fitness trainer and instructor, she also is a motivational speaker.
“I did things people said I couldn’t do. At 25, I dedicated my life to educating people to love their hearts,” Wilkes said
Saying she considered herself a heart ambassador, she encouraged Go Red attendees to “be your own hero” by believing what they do matters and setting their minds up for success.