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Latina shares ‘Heart Scare Story’ at ‘Go Red Por Tu Corazón’


By La Prensa Staff


Suzie Hernández-Mendoza suffered the scare of a lifetime at the age of 34—two heart attacks in the same year. What sounds like an unusual series of events, however, is more commonplace than what most women may think. In fact, one in three women die of heart disease.


Ms. Hernández-Mendoza shared her story at the annual Go Red for Women luncheon to benefit the American Heart Association. The luncheon was held Friday, Feb. 8, 2019 at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Toledo. Ashley Sheehan was the Luncheon Chair and Melissa Andrews of WTOL was Emcee; the event included panel discussion—Dr. Kamala Tamirisa, Mo Sheahan, and Amber Bupp.


The long-time staff member at the Northwest Ohio Area Office on Aging had the unthinkable happen 25 years ago—waking up in the middle of the night with the symptoms of a heart attack. After feeling light-headed, she went to bed, only to wake up suddenly at 2 a.m. with chest pains. Ms. Hernández-Mendoza only recalls seeing blackness, but could hear her husband scared and on the phone with 911, describing for dispatchers how she had been thrashing in bed.


“It felt like someone dropped a ton of bricks on my chest. Couldn’t breathe,” she recalled in a video about her first heart attack. Doctors later told her it was a mild episode that would soon repeat itself.


Two days later, Ms. Hernández-Mendoza suffered a second heart attack in her kitchen while home alone with her youngest son. The then-four-year old boy had just learned how to call 911. Lucky for her, the little boy remembered what to do, saving her life. This time, she had felt intense squeezing in her chest.


With no risk factors or family history, and all normal and clear tests after that, doctors attributed both heart attacks to stress. Ms. Hernández-Mendoza has been healthy since and now volunteers as a God Red for Women ambassador, encouraging others to maintain their heart health so they'll be around a long lifetime to enjoy their families.


"Together, we can save the lives of the women we love," she told the luncheon crowd. "For the women, like me, who survived heart attacks. For the young girl who just went into cardiac arrest at her high school basketball game from a heart condition she didn’t know about. For the mother who was just told her heart may not be strong enough for her pregnancy. For the empty seat at the dinner table where our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and mentors should have been sitting, watching life’s most precious moments beside us."


According to the American Heart Association, heart disease and stroke is the number one killer of women. 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases in women can be prevented by living a healthier lifestyle.


The advocacy organization urges women to know their numbers by getting their blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose checked by a doctor on a regular basis. The other main point for women is to quit smoking and stay active through reducing stress and regular exercise.


Recent research from the American Heart Association shows Latinas living in the U.S. face more cardiovascular-related death in counties heavily populated by Hispanics than those living in more diverse areas. That is one of the areas the organization focused its education and outreach efforts last fall at the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center with Go Red Por Tu Corazón.


“I’m here to tell you that heart disease has waged a war on women,” said Ms. Hernández-Mendoza, who's also sharing her story as part of the Go Red for Women/Go Red Por Tu Corazón effort. “It’s time we turned the tides and fighting for women is what Go Red for Women does best. We all want to be around for our families – so we must make our health a priority.



Copyright © 1989 to 2019 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02/12/19 21:18:11 -0800.




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