Her Heart: Lifesaving Facts From Betty


It’s Heart Month.

So, that means it’s time to focus on the #2 killer in our community. We want to start by introducing you to Betty McMahon and thanking her for sharing her encounter with the heart attack that could have killed her.

It didn’t.

There are a lot of reasons for Betty to be sticking around. One of those reasons is an opportunity to tell you what she has learned just in case it might help save your life, too.

Hints of What Was Coming.

Betty is an extremely brilliant woman. There is no doubt of that. She is a Forensic Neuropsychologist with a PhD and extreme respect among her colleagues for her work. That high intelligence didn’t keep her from missing signs her body was giving her months before her heart attack that something might be wrong. And it didn’t help her realize what she was feeling very early one summer morning might be from her heart. Fortunately, she was very smart in one of the decisions she made that morning, a decision that made all the difference in what the rest of her life would be like.

All this month, you’ll hear from those in the group picture with Betty. They are the people who were there when she had her heart attack. And of course, you’ll hear from Betty as she talks straight with you. Straight from Her Heart.

Go Nuts About Reducing Your Heart Attack & Stroke Risk!

If You’re Nuts about Nuts, Have We Got Great News for You!

A new study conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University and the Shanghai Cancer Institute found that eating peanuts is linked to a lower mortality rate and can also reduce the risk of death caused by heart attack and stroke.

Participants for the study published earlier this year in JAMA Internal Medicine included more than 70,000 black and white low-income men and women in the United States, as well as more than 130,000 men and women in Shanghai. Researchers followed the subjects for up to 12 years and found that those who ate more nuts on a regular basis decreased their risk of death by 17 to 21 percent regardless of ethnicity. Cardiovascular deaths were reduced by about 25 percent.

Different From Other Studies

Previous studies generally focused on higher-income, white participants, but researchers claim this analysis is the first of its kind to focus on other ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses. Those preceding studies also linked tree nuts such as almonds, cashews, and walnuts to improved cardiovascular health, but failed to single out peanuts (which are actually legumes). But peanuts, which are more accessible and inexpensive than tree nuts, make the snack an easy option to incorporate into a diet and help improve heart health.

Incorporating Peanuts Into Your Diet

Much like tree nuts, peanuts are high in antioxidants, B vitamins, fiber, and monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial to heart health, and likely the cause of decreased mortality rates. Peanuts are also part of the Mediterranean diet, a plant-heavy eating plan that focuses on consuming fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, fish, and poultry. The diet has also been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease.If you’re already snacking on peanuts, keep it up.

If you’re not, add peanuts to your regular, well-balanced diet, but stick to the recommended serving size—a handful of nuts (one to 1.5 ounces) every day. And be sure to opt for low sodium or unsalted peanuts with no oil, as peanuts and other tree nuts are high in calories.

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.