Women & Heart Disease
On a beautiful spring day in 1996, I was walking from the classroom where I taught to my office. I began to have chest pains with each step I took. I was only 40 years old at the time and had been healthy my whole life, so I wasn't too concerned at first.
Later that day, I called our family doctor to discuss my daughter's health. While I was speaking to the nurse, I mentioned the chest pain that I was experiencing. She strongly recommended that I come to the clinic.
A short time later, my husband drove me to the ER, where I was kept overnight for observation. During breakfast the next morning, I had my first heart attack! Within five days, I had my first angioplasty. Within three months, I had double bypass surgery.
I was very fortunate during this time to receive wonderful medical care, but something was missing. It never occurred to me that my symptoms were that of a classic heart attack. I had no knowledge of what heart attack symptoms were, or my own personal risk factors. I couldn't find another woman like myself to talk to about life after a heart attack.
The medical care I received following my heart attack was almost immediate, but it took me six years to find a support group for women with heart disease - WomenHeart. It is the only organization that offers women with heart disease support from other women with heart disease.
My experience with heart disease and WomenHeart has been life-changing. As a WomenHeart Champion, I hope to be a mentor for women with heart disease, helping them to connect with others like them, to learn about their disease, and to take charge of their lives again.
In addition to facilitating the WomenHeart support groups at Dean Clinic - Janesville East and in Edgerton, Kathleen advocates for women with heart disease through her community speaking activities. She also works with clinicians to bring about a greater appreciation for the way women experience heart disease.
I learned about my own heart disease after my younger sister died suddenly of a heart attack. I was 40 years old at the time and knew that I had a life-giving opportunity to improve my risk factors so that I could keep my heart disease well controlled. As a teacher, I knew that education and peer support were critical to my good health. I joined WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and began to take better care of my health. WomenHeart connected me with women who understood my fears, concerns and my need for information.
Today I work to keep my lifestyle a heart-healthy one. I am pleased to run a monthly support group for women living with heart disease. I advocate for women and share my experience at a national level. The process of giving and receiving companionship and support have strengthened my overall health and sense of well being.
It's critical that women understand that most heart disease is preventable and that our daily choices have significant impact. As we take small, consistent actions toward better health, we have hope for a long, healthy future.
Mandee Vimont, MS, RD
As a busy mother of little boys, I understand the difficulty in finding balance between healthy lifestyle choices and practical solutions. I believe in moderation and small, sustainable changes that lead to overall healthy lifestyles. To quote Charles M. Shultz, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.”
I am a registered dietitian specializing in heart health and weight loss. I work in Preventive Cardiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation, and completed CDR Certificate of Training in Adult and Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management.
I love learning about food, talking about it, growing it, cooking it and trying new foods. But most of all, I love eating GOOD food. My passion is inspiring people to live happy, healthy lives. I enjoy working with women, empowering them with the knowledge they need to take ownership of their health and well-being.