Heart Health Movement Is Aimed at Women

Photo courtesy USC Verdugo Hills Hospital
La Cañada Flintridge residents Gillan Frame, Shawn Sheffield and Jenn Worley are taking part in the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement.

La Cañada Flintridge resident Donna Franklin was surprised when she sustained a heart attack last year, because she was not found to have cardiac health issues during two pre-surgical screenings.
Franklin, 86, had surgeries for cataracts last April and June and sustained the heart attack in August.
“It’s the last thing in the world I thought I would have,” Franklin said recently before working out at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. “[The pain] got worse and worse and I thought, ‘I’m calling 911.’” Soon she was in a hospital, where she received a stent.
After she recovered, a cardiologist suggested that she participate in physical activity, and she went to USC-VHH and begin rehabilitation, using a variety of exercise machines.
Raising awareness about heart-healthy practices, specifically among women, is a mission for Shawn Sheffield, chief strategy officer for Keck Medicine of USC, who is this year’s chair for the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement. February is Heart Month.
Heart disease kills more women nationwide than any other disease, including breast cancer, Sheffield said.
“That was the major reason that drew me in,” said Sheffield, whose grandfather died of a heart attack and grandmother died of a stroke. “I think it was a lack of awareness of how much a killer cardiovascular disease is for women.” Cardiovascular disease includes strokes.
Sheffield said she recruited fellow LCF residents Gillan Frame and Jenn Worley for help with the effort.
Worley, founder of Face Haus, and Frame, a local Realtor, are now part of the movement’s executive steering committee.
Face Haus, which specializes in facials, is 90% run by women, and 70% of its clientele is female, so working with Sheffield, Frame and the heart association is a “great fit,” Worley said.
“Self-care and awareness all fall in the same bucket of taking good care of ourselves,” she said, adding that her father suffers from cardiovascular disease. “I didn’t know [heart disease] was the leading killer of women. It was very educational and a great opportunity to connect with other women, and … I absolutely connected to a lot of women in this Los Angeles-based female wellness space.”
Frame said about 60% of real estate agents are women, and that can help start a conversation on heart-health awareness.
“Breast cancer does get a lot of attention,” Frame said. “I’ve had that in my family, but also heart disease. My grandmother died of a heart attack … living alone and she didn’t want to bother anybody. It became a life-changing event and it didn’t have to be. I have high blood pressure also. [The movement] gives us all an opportunity to educate women and men.”
Sheffield said some early symptoms women should not ignore include:
• Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
• Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
• Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
• Other signs including breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
• As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Franklin said it was “very important” to pay attention to one’s heart and be willing to call for help if anything comes up.
“If you have a problem that is very unusual and you don’t know what it is, it’s best to call someone,” Franklin said. “I figured that I better do it sooner rather than later,” before becoming unable to call.
Franklin preaches positivity to people struggling with the same health issues.
“Keep active and look on the bright side,” Franklin said. “I think you have to have a positive outlook on things because if you’re always negative, your body feels that negativism.”
For more information, visit lagored.heart.org or call (213) 291-7051.

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