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Tales from the Heart: Queen of Hearts

February 22nd, 2012 - By Lari Robling

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Caption: Laurie R. and her husband Kevin

Like many women, Laurie R. didn’t want to disrupt the family when she became fatigued and out of breath on a family outing at their favorite water park. She still felt tired on their return home, but went to work the next day. The following day with her symptoms worsening, she drove herself to the hospital emergency room.

Laurie R. was lucky she got herself there – her heart was functioning at 30% capacity. She had no plaque or narrowing of the arteries so the conjecture is that an infection overtime stressed her heart causing congestive heart failure. An electronic defibrillator was implanted to regulate her heartbeat.

That was four years ago and she became active in her recovery by eliminating stress and cultivating a support system as well as working with a nutritionist. Discovering just how many calories were in her favorite vanilla latte beverage was a shocker.

“I had to learn how to read labels to cut out salt and sugar,” she says. “I also learned to bake instead of fry and use a crock-pot. I love my crock-pot.”

These changes helped her to lose 140 pounds in two years and she has kept it off for two. Laurie R.’s journey has made her aware of how vulnerable women are to undiagnosed heart disease and she speaks out whenever she can to let women know:

  • More women have died from undiagnosed heart disease than men. More women die of undiagnosed heart disease than breast cancer.
  • Think of five women you know. Three of them may die from undiagnosed heart disease.
  • If you don’t like the word “diet,” remove the “t” from the end. That’s your alternative. Suddenly those fruits and vegetables don’t sound so bad.
  • Women need to practice more self-care and be vocal when something doesn’t seem right. Even physicians often miss heart health in women – there are four tests that are routine in men’s physicals that women need to ask for.

Read more about Laurie R. and her 2010 Queen of Hearts award from Main Line Health.

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