Courtesy of The Post-Tribune
Written by Hannah Reed
Dianna Winborn passed out at a gas station two years ago while she was in the middle of filling her car up with gas — it was a pivotal moment, but it wasn’t where her journey with heart health started.
Her issues began when she was just 15, going from doctor to doctor complaining of feeling out of breath and fatigued. Many doctors brushed it off as her being a kid, she said.
It wasn’t until she started having chest pains and shortness of breath that she went to a cardiologist who checked the medical history in her family and told her she had a background of heart disease in her family.
Now, Winborn has a loop recorder in her chest.
“They monitor me 24/7, which is kind of a relief,” Winborn said. “You’re always worried ‘is it going to happen again?’”
Winborn, who said she has Brugada Syndrome, has been volunteering with the American Heart Association for more than 20 years. She said since the loss of her mom two years ago to cardiac disease, she has become more passionate about learning more and being a spokesperson for heart disease in women. One of the events she volunteers at is the annual Go Red for Women Educational Symposium.
The 15th annual Go Red for Women Educational Symposium drew in hundreds of guests Thursday from all over the area with the intent to increase women’s heart health awareness.
Go Red for Women launched in 2004, originally as a campaign to raise awareness. Now, it’s an international movement hoping to eradicate heart disease and stroke in women all over the world.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States. Events such as the Go Red for Women Educational Symposium draw attention to this statistic while also educating women about how to lower it.
Of the hundreds in attendance were other survivors like Alexandrea Bojorquez. Just after the Go Red for Women event in 2017, Bojorquez suffered a heart attack and had to have open-heart surgery, she said.
“When I had surgery I was 35, and I pretty much almost died,” Bojorquez said. “I want to make sure that I live a longer life. I have a 5-year-old daughter — I want to make sure I’m around for her.”
While Winborn and Bojorquez were there as survivors, others were there to learn.
“I don’t believe people understand how important this is,” said Maria McGrory, of Crown Point. “I think it’s vital. Women, we don’t pay attention. We care for everyone else, but we are the last ones.”
More than one in three women is living with some form of cardiovascular disease, and they claim the life of a woman about every 80 seconds, according to the Go Red for Women website. However, about 80 percent of these diseases and strokes may be prevented with education and action.
The Go Red for Women symposium assisted women and their loved ones in what to look for, and featured complimentary assessment screenings for heart and stroke risk, hands only CPR training, a discussion panel and more.
The discussion panel featured cardiologists Dr. Maya Kommineni of Porter Regional Hospital, Dr. Andre Artis of Methodist Hospitals and Dr. Matt Kamin of Franciscan Health. The three discussed diet and exercise while giving the audience tips on how to keep their hearts healthy. One of the things talked about during the panel was the subtlety of heart issues.
“It’s not always the most physical symptoms,” Kommineni said. “I encourage you to be looking more at the little things that are different in your lives. I’ll never forget missing a patient having a heart attack when I was a resident and all she had was acid reflux that was getting worse and worse and worse all night.”
Cleaning up diet and getting 30 minutes of exercise a day can help keep women out of risk, the doctors said, but it’s important to keep asking questions and paying attention to live a longer life.
“The one thing that we say is that every child should know their grandparent,” Artis said. “If you’re not taking care of yourself now, that might not be a possibility.”