While the heart disease facts and statistics are essential to Heart Month, there is, perhaps, nothing more powerful than the personal stories of women who have lived with—and conquered—heart disease, and the roles these women play in spreading heart health awareness.
Illinois native Marie Warshauer knows the role she plays is significant. Back in 2002, as a member of the inaugural class of WomenHeart Champions, she made it her mission to help other women know the signs and symptoms of heart disease. “It’s important to know your family history—both my father and grandfather had heart disease,” says Marie. “Women have to listen to themselves, take care of themselves.” That’s something Marie has learned to do after being diagnosed with coronary artery disease in 2002.
“I began experiencing the symptoms in 2001, but didn’t know it. My energy was low and I started having radiating numbness in my arms.” A visit to the hospital proved to be the right choice for Marie. Though an initial stress test showed no symptoms, a second test revealed a 99 percent blockage of her left anterior descending artery (LAD).
After coming to terms with her diagnosis and seeking medical treatment, Marie was surprised to learn from her cardiologist and WomenHeart Scientific Advisory Council member Norine Walsh, M.D., about a support system she could find help. “Dr. Walsh introduced to me WomenHeart,” Marie says. “This organization helps so many women and encourages them to think [about their health] and to listen to themselves.”
Marie’s involvement with WomenHeart would turn out to be a major milestone in her life. After becoming of one of the first WomenHeart Champions, she would go on to lead support networks in Illinois and Indiana, using her story to educate women about heart disease and teaching them to advocate for themselves and others. An unwavering commitment to spreading the word about heart disease afforded her the opportunity to serve as a District Leader, National Director of Support Networks, and eventual WomenHeart Board member.
Today, Marie feels wonderful and continues to be passionate about raising heart health awareness. She’s so grateful to WomenHeart that she actually intends to list the organization in her will. “WomenHeart helped me find courage and make life-long friends. It has truly changed my life.”