MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - February is National Heart Month. In partnership with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign, we’re sharing stories this month on Today in Alabama that could save a life.
Heart disease and stroke cause one in three deaths among women each year – that’s more than all cancers combined. And 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action.
Go Red For Women is a national movement to end heart disease and stroke in women. The campaign has been around for year, but the focus this year has shifted. It's no longer just about wearing red; it's no longer just about sharing heart health facts. It's time for women to take charge and own their heart health.
“The earlier we recognize that we’re at risk, the sooner we can do something about it,” said Tiffany Bass, the director of cardiac line services at Baptist South Hospital. She knows first hand how true this is.
“I'm a mom of two girls that are pre-teens and teens, and there's a level of stress that comes with that,” Bass explained. “I'm the oldest child in my family unit, so there's a lot of responsibility.”
She’s also a cardiac nurse with a high pressure job.
“I manage and lead all of the departments that fall within our cardiac services," Bass said.
And now, as of less than a year ago, Bass is a hypertension patient.
“I had my doctor’s appointment and my blood pressure was a little bit elevated at that time, and we decided to move ahead with medical treatment," Bass said.
It was a routine check-up. Bass had no idea this diagnosis was coming.
“I’ve always been active, I’ve always watched my diet,” Bass said. “Nothing felt differently at all.”
But heart disease runs in her family. And her profession has taught her a lot about silent symptoms.
“Hypertension, it is silent and most of the time it presents with no symptoms,” Bass said.
So now Tiffany is her own nurse and her own patient.
“I’ve always taken it seriously, I’ve always as a nurse tried to educate my patients and family, but now I’m educating me,” she said. “I understand the importance of keeping check on my blood pressure, and having frequent visits with my physician.”
Now she’s even more committed to her health.
“I’m more aware of it, and I’m more committed to exercise, and more committed to making sure my diet is lower in sodium, more aware of checking my blood pressure,” Bass said.
And she urging other women to make the same commitment, reminding them that they can’t take care of anyone else if they don’t take care of themselves first.
“I give you permission to take care of yourself,” Bass laughed.
The American Heart Association says that means women need to do three things:
- Know your risk - There are some risk factors we can’t do anything about, so women need to educate themselves about themselves. Know if they have a family history of heart disease, know that health issues in the past can lead to other issues in the future, and understand that age, gender and race can all weigh in to your heart health.
- Know your numbers – You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Managing blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and BMI are critical to preventing heart disease.
- Commit to better health - move more, eat smart, and manage your blood pressure.
Learn more about the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women here: https://www.goredforwomen.org/en.