Campaign raises awareness of heart disease in women


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist J.P. HARRINGTON

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

Posted on February 12, 2014 at 7:31 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 12 at 7:41 PM

AUSTIN -- Countless women have gone about their normal days, until something unexpected stopped them. It's why the American Heart Association developed its Go Red 4 Women awareness campaign a decade ago.  But 11 years later, doctors say more women need to become aware of this silent killer.

In the short film “Just a Little Heart Attack,” actress Elizabeth Banks portrays a busy mom during a normal day that hits home with most women: taking care of everyone except themselves.

While preparing sandwiches and getting everyone ready for school, Banks starts experiencing chest pain and nausea. She drops a stack of dishes.

“Nobody move,” she says. “I’m getting a dustpan.”  

“Mom, I think you’re having a heart attack,” says the boy playing her son.

“Honey, do I look like the type of person who has a heart attack?” said Banks.

Jennie Covert-Stewart of the Covert Auto Group had no risk factors for heart disease. She remembers watching a bit of the video and then getting on with her busy life.

“I just dismissed it, because I thought it couldn’t happen to me,” Covert-Stewart said. “I didn’t even finish the video.”

Just a few weeks later, Covert-Stewart suffered a heart attack.

She joined others on Wednesday at the Texas State Capitol turning over their portraits that also reveal their stories about surviving heart disease. It’s all part of the American Heart Association’s 11th annual Go Red For Women movement.

“330 fewer women are dying every day,” said Kerry Hall, the American Heart Association – Capital Area Division Board President.

Wednesday’s survivors are all ages, including 2-year-old Ryah Barnabey, who was born with a rare congenital defect that left her with three chambers in her heart instead of four. Regardless of age, all survivors say they wanted to help put a face on the awareness campaign.

“No matter how young or old you are, it can happen to you,” said
29-year-old April Villanueva, who has been wearing a pacemaker for a year. “If you get that gut feeling, that's something wrong you need to get checked. Heart disease is the number one killer among women. Not many people know that. I didn’t know that before this.

Go here for more information on Go Red 4 Women, and go here for information on the Heart Hospital of Austin.