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Go Red for Women: How women can keep themselves healthy

Posted at: 02/01/2013 6:10 PM
Updated at: 02/01/2013 6:19 PM
By: Lynette Adams

Friday is the 10th anniversary of the American Heart Association's “Go Red for Women” Campaign. The purpose is to raise awareness about heart disease which is the number one killer of women.

News10NBC wanted to know how ladies can keep themselves healthy. We learned preventing a heart attack is in the hands of every woman and  small changes can make a difference. But one of the most important things you can do is be an advocate for your health. That may have saved Ginger Zimmerman's life.

Ginger Zimmerman, said, “I knew that something was happening and I actually described it to a friend, that it felt like my body was getting old really fast.”

For four and a half years, Ginger Zimmerman tired to convince doctors that something was wrong with her heart, but no one she says believed her. It started with a bout of viral meningitis. She was treated at the hospital and sent home, but over time, things got worse. She would experience chest pains with exertion. It even became difficult to sleep flat. She would wake up gasping for breath. Finally another illness landed her in the hospital.

Zimmerman said, “I was diagnosed with bronchitis. Well it wasn't bronchitis. It was full blown congestive heart failure.”

By the time, the tests all cam back, Zimmerman's doctor told her she was nearly dead. Only 15% of her heart was functioning.

Zimmerman said, “They diagnosed me with viral cardiomyopathy. The virus I had actually attached to my heart muscles and started to destroy my heart. Sadly if they had of diagnosed me a year earlier, they probably could have avoided the transplant, but it was my only option.”

Persistence may have saved Zimmerman. One out of three women won't survive heart disease. Marc Natale is the Executive Director of the American Heart Association.

Marc Natale, American Heart Association Executive Director, said, “The facts are pretty staggering. Most women don't know that.”

News10NBC's Lynette Adams said, “What should I do today to prevent it?”

Natale said, “Know your numbers, get a full work up and talk to your physicians. It only takes a couple minutes.”

Zimmerman said, “You have to be your own advocate. speak up. You have to take care of yourself. Don't put it off.”

Two of the ways to keep your heart healthy is getting active, controlling your cholesterol, eating better, managing your blood pressure, lose weight if you are overweight and reduce your blood sugar. The leading cause of heart disease is smoking.

For more information, go to mylifecheck.org