Her Heart: What Linda and Mary Jane Didn’t Know Almost Killed Them

Payback from the Heart

Linda and Mary Jane are two Gainesville women who both had a brush with death because their hearts were not as healthy as they thought. They are very different women, but they share some very important things. They both survived heart disease. They are both working hard to overcome their risk factors. They both illustrate clearly why heart disease continues to kill women, in spite of 15 years of major education campaigns. And they both wanted to share their stories in the hope it might make a difference in your life.

More About Linda

Linda Ballard was diagnosed with heart disease and had quadruple bypass surgery and is enrolled in the Cardiac Rehabilitation program at North Florida Regional Medical Center to increase the chances she will continue to be healthy and survive.

Linda Ballard was diagnosed very recently with heart disease. She had quadruple heart bypass in November of 2014. Following surgery at North Florida Regional Medical Center, she enrolled in the Cardiac Rehabilitation program at the hospital. Linda believes the program is making a major difference in her recovery, and she is grateful to Rhonda Gardner, RN, BSN and the rest of the staff in Cardiac Rehab. Like many women with heart disease, Linda never experienced chest pain. Instead, she experienced arm and jaw pain. Linda was with a physician friend at the time of her symptoms, who insisted she go to the ER. Linda acknowledges that, without the guidance of her physician friend, she probably would not have gone. Her story illustrates the continuing gap in understanding of unique heart disease symptoms for women and a reluctance to go to the ER. Studies show women are usually willing to call an ambulance for a friend or family member but not for themselves.

More About Mary Jane

Mary Jane Tschorn was with on a walk with her husband, Don, five years ago when symptoms of a possible heart attack led to her diagnosis and surgery. Five years later, Mary Jane still comes faithfully to Cardiac Rehab for monitored exercise. Don still comes with her. Meredith Bauer, RN, helps guide Mary Jane in her recovery.

Mary Jane Tschorn says it’s hard to believe five years have passed since her near heart attack and triple bypass surgery to open clogged arteries in her heart. Mary Jane is always happy to share her story, and she hopes it may reach women who are younger than she is. Studies show understanding of heart disease risk factors by younger women is a continuing gap. That’s a shame because younger women have more time to adjust their lifestyle and make changes that can lower their risk of developing heart disease. Mary Jane’s advice is really pretty simple. Know that, if you are a woman, heart disease can happen to you. Understand what you can do about it. Then, do it.

A Footnote

Our thanks to Mary Jane and Linda for sharing their stories and to the staff in Cardiac Rehabilitation for the care they provide to patients. Additional thanks to Dr. Christopher Caputo of the Cardiac & Vascular Institute for talking with WCJB-TV20’s Lauren Verno for her report.

Her Heart: Women, Listen Up!

Lauren Verno is the Health Reporter at WCJB-TV20 in Gainesville, Florida.

Lauren Verno is the Health Reporter at WCJB-TV20 in Gainesville, Florida.

Risks, Symptoms and Prevention

Dr. Illie Barb is an Interventional Cardiologist at The Cardiac and Vascular Institute and is on staff at North Florida Regional Medical Center. He believes it’s so important for women to understand that heart disease is not a man’s disease. After 15+ years of major messaging efforts to tell women about risk factors, different symptoms and prevention – heart disease is still the nation’s biggest killer of women.

I invited Dr. Barb to be my guest in the Medical Spotlight segment on our Noon Newscast on Wednesday, February 4. He sat down on the news set of WCJB-TV20 and talked with me about how we’ve made some big improvements in raising awareness among women, and the mortality rate among all women has decreased significantly over the years. However, he also explained that there are still major gaps among certain age groups and ethnic groups.