Health & Science
2:38 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Fla. Capitol Brings Awareness To Heart Disease In Women

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People driving past the Florida Capitol building Friday night might have noticed that it had a little more color. The state capitol joined other capitols around the country in being lit red in observance of National Heart Month.

Heart disease is responsible for one in four deaths in the United States. And for women, it’s their number one killer. It’s a truth Jamie Harris learned firsthand when her friend Lisa Cox collapsed from a sudden cardiac arrest.

Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll and Tallahassee Memorial Hospital's CEO Mark O'Brien
Credit R.Benk / WFSU-FM

“I did CPR and the other person called 911 and the ambulance got there and they defibrillated her and she’s still here today, training and running…. So Jamie saved my life,” Harris said.

Cox said she had no idea that there was something wrong with her until after she’d collapsed. She’s an avid runner and she’s in great shape. But, the disease runs in her family. Out of the nine risk factors that the American Heart Association lists, Cox couldn’t get away from heredity. The other factors include tobacco use, obesity, and unhealthy diet. For this reason, Chairwoman of the Southeastern Chapter of the association, Crystal Spencer, said it’s her duty to educate women.

“Heart disease is not a man’s disease only, it is the number one killer of women and so we wanted to make sure that women were aware, the medical profession was aware, everyone needs to be aware of their risk as well as their chances of suffering from this heart disease and from stroke of course,” Spencer pointed out.

Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll has championed the fight against heart disease ever since she became a member of the American Heart Associations’ Board of Directors while still in the U.S. Navy during the 1980s. She hopes to use her position to help pass more heart-healthy legislation, like a measure that would require heart screenings for newborn babies, during the upcoming session.

“What we’re going to be doing is making sure that the legislature properly understands the need for the awareness, the need for the state to be active,” Carroll said.

Carroll also said the first step in stopping heart disease is to make sure that people are aware of its prevalence. She’s hoping the red lights across the front of the Historical Capitol did just that.

Credit R.Benk / WFSU-FM

“They’re going to see the Capitol red and wonder why and then everyone else starts a dialogue and then we’re able to engage with them in education about how they can take care of themselves and live longer lives,” Carroll said.

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that about 935-thousand Americans suffer a heart attack and that Coronary Heart Disease alone costs the nation about 108-billion dollars a year.