Three years ago, when Corinne Kubena had a heart attack at age 23, she didn’t recognize the symptoms, although she’d known for years something wasn’t right with her body.
“I had no idea what the symptoms of a heart attack looked like outside of Hollywood. In women you don’t get that bam, hit the ground,” she said. Instead, Kubena experienced jaw and tooth pain, neck pain, chest pressure and extreme nausea, all common to women having a heart attack.
On Feb. 8, at the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Luncheon, Kubena will share her survival story and help educate women about their number one killer – heart disease.
The luncheon, now in its ninth year, will also feature other heart attack survivors and keynote speaker Julie Clark, an author and life coach who encourages women to reduce the stress in their lives.
“Stress is a huge contributor to heart disease in women and can lead to heart attacks,” said executive director Jennifer Mills. “Through our keynote speaker we are urging women to take time out for themselves, try to focus on their health and relax a little. …Women are so busy with work and families they put their health and their well-being last.”
Mills said they expect about 150 women, all dressed in red, and hope to raise $150,000 through the event to help fund heart disease research and education.
“It’s really a wonderful sisterhood type of event. Our goal is to leave women feeling empowered and ready to ask the necessary questions,” Mills said. “A staggering one in three women suffer from heart disease but only one in six believe it’s a threat. That’s a huge disconnect.”
For Kubena, that disconnect nearly cost her life. “I waited hours. I could have prevented so much damage to my heart. I could have gotten help so much sooner,” she said, describing how her boyfriend made her go to the emergency room after looking up symptoms on the Internet.
Kubena also hopes to encourage women to listen to their bodies. Since her teens she’d felt like something wasn’t right with her heart. Numerous doctor visits and tests, however, failed to reveal she had Prinzmetal’s angina, a condition where the artery lining suddenly contracts. After she had her heart attack Kubena finally had an answer.
“It was such a relief to finally know something is wrong,” she said, noting that while her condition isn’t common, her heart attack symptoms were typical for what many women experience.
“You have to be your first line of defense. Don’t ignore symptoms. Your body knows how it should feel,” she stressed. “Know the symptoms. Think of the ones you love.”
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