In a crowded church in Greensboro, North Carolina, all eyes are on the podium as two men and a woman recount their personal tales of survival. All have waged a battle against heart disease and/or stroke and are sharing their experiences in the hope of educating others.
At the young age of 19, Cory had a catastrophic stroke at the end of his freshman year of college. Against all odds, he came back from this life threatening event to start the final game of his senior year.
Children teach their parents many lessons. Shannon Cockrell’s daughter Morgan Humphreys taught her mom about the physiology of the heart—and the preciousness of life.
Veronica Sanchez thought she knew the signs of a heart attack from the movies she’d seen — chest pain and numbness in the left arm. So when she felt nauseated and dizzy, she dismissed those feelings. "I thought it was something I ate," she said.
In early 2010, Mariam Giardini was a vivacious 32-year-old. She ate healthy and worked hard to stay in shape, doing fitness boot camps and other aerobic activities. Heart disease was the furthest thing from her mind.
Debra Koziol, age 54, of Cranston, Rhode Island, has spent her adult life paying attention to her health by exercising and watching her diet. She had to because in her 20s she’d been diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse—a condition causing her heart to occasionally skip a beat.
I smoked too much. I worked too much. Ate a horrible diet. My only exercise was finger calisthenics with the TV remote. I was a 5-foot-6, 200-lb couch potato.
At three months old Crystal Flores was diagnosed with seven different congenital heart defects. Eight open-heart surgeries later she declares, "Heart disease can't beat me!"
Six years ago, 51-year-old Ellen Abramson of St. Louis was the picture of health. Working for a national weight loss company, the busy mom of three prided herself on eating healthy and working out on a regular basis. So when she began experiencing puzzling symptoms such as regular heartburn and crushing fatigue, she knew something wasn’t right.
Long before she became co-anchor of the popular television show Entertainment Tonight, Nancy O'Dell was an advocate for healthy living.