EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSHEART HEALTH
from Eyewitness News Online
Survivors Share Stories For Heart Disease Awareness
Reported by: Darrah Wilcox
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Reported: Feb. 11, 2013 9:52 AM EST
Updated: Feb. 11, 2013 11:39 AM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Debby Smith of Charleston said her journey to becoming a heart survivor started off mildly when she began having issues with her blood pressure.
"I went to the doctor and my blood pressure would spike and drop and spike and drop, and I was getting tired," Smith said.
Eight hours later, she was having surgery on what doctors call a "widow maker."
"It was like being on a roller coaster going downhill with no brakes," she said.
Smith had major blockages, and after that surgery, she made some drastic changes in her life.
"It changes everything about you. Your lifestyle, how you think, how you pray. How you look at life," Smith said.
Always an avid cook, Smith's style in that area also had to change.
"I can't use a pound of butter," said Smith with a laugh. She has learned to adapt. Smith brings her lunch to work and whips up sandwiches on the griddle with lean lunch meat and light condiments.
"I think you have to be willing to step out and take a recipe and make it healthy. If it's your favorite recipe, make it healthy," she said.
Smith has not only taken back control of her life, but she is also an advocate for other women. "A lot of women die very quickly from that because they think they have indigestion or they think they've pulled a muscle in their back, or I don't know why I'm short of breath," she said. "Those are indications that you are having a problem with your heart."
Heart disease kills one woman each minute in the United States. That's why the American Heart Association encourages women to Go Red this February. "Donate to the cause. Wear your little red pin and let people like me know that when we walk by you in the mall and you have your little red pin that you are supporting our cause," she said.
You can join the millions of survivors like Smith, who vow to lead by example with their heart health, not just this month, but every month.
"I do want to be around this time next year to say I am a heart survivor," Smith said.
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