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29 Days of Heart Honorees 2016
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Photo Image: Toni Braxton
Date: February 1, 2016

Toni Braxton (born October 7, 1967 - ) is an American singer–songwriter, pianist, record producer, actress, television personality, and philanthropist. Rising to fame in the beginning of the early–1990s, Braxton quickly established herself as an R&B icon and became one of the best-selling female artists of the 1990s decade, garnering her honorific titles such as the "Queen of R&B" and being recognized as one of the most outstanding voices of this generation. In 2005, Toni Braxton was diagnosed with a heart condition called Pericarditis, an inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart. As a result of her lifestyle changes, she is now an unbreakable heart disease survivor.
Photo copy credit: wikipedia

If you have heart disease and want to learn more about how you too can thrive with heart disease click here!

Photo Image: Maya Angelou
Date: February 3, 2016

 Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Annie Johnson; (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American author, poet and civil rights activist . She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of 17 and brought her international recognition and acclaim. On May 28, 2014, Angelou died at the age of 86 after suffering from heart problems.
photo credit: copy credit: wikipedia,

Maya Angelou spent her life empowering women. Empower yourself by taking charge of your heart health. It starts with knowledge: Click here for information on African American women and heart disease.

Photo Image: Althea Gibson
Date: February 5, 2016

Althea Gibson (August 25, 1927 – September 28, 2003) was an American tennis player and professional golfer; and the first black athlete to cross the color line of international tennis. In 1956, she became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title (the French Open). The following year she won both Wimbledon and the US Nationals (precursor of the U.S. Open); then went on to win both again in 1958. She was voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in both years. In all, she won 11 Grand Slam tournaments, including six doubles titles, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Later in life, Ms. Gibson suffered a stroke and developed serious heart problems. On September 28, 2003, Gibson died of respiratory failure in East Orange, New Jersey. Photo credit: copy credit:
Stroke can be caused by heart related problems like Atrial Fibrillation. Learn more here.

Photo Image: Natalie Cole
Date: February 6, 2016

Natalie Cole (February 6, 1950 – December 31, 2015) was an American singer–songwriter, and performer. The daughter of Nat KingCole, she rose to musical success in the mid–1970s as an R&B artist with the hits This Will Be, Inseparable and Our Love. In the 1990s, she re-recorded standards by her father, resulting in her biggest success, Unforgettable...with Love which sold over seven million copies and also won Cole numerous Grammy Awards. She sold over 30 million records worldwide. On December 31, 2015, Cole died at the age of 65 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, due to congestive heart failure .

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is committed to advancing women’s heart health as a member of WomenHeart’s National Hospital AllianceClick here for more information on congestive heart failure.

Photo Image: Charlotte Hawkins Brown
Date: February 7, 2016

Charlotte Hawkins Brown (June 11, 1883 – January 11, 1961) founded the Palmer Memorial Institute in North Carolina in 1902, transforming the lives of more than 2,000 African American students from across the country. Starting off as a one room, uncredited school for black boys and girls, this school expanded to include grade school as well as junior college and dormitories. Brown taught many subjects ultimately resulting in the advancement and education of thousands of black men and women. When Brown came to Sedalia, NC, only two families owned their farms. By 1930, 95 percent of the families were independent owners and farmers. Ms. Brown's organization, the Home Ownership Association, is largely responsible. Charlotte Hawkins Brown became one of the founders of the North Carolina State Federation of Negro Womens Clubs. Their national club motto is Lifting as We Climb. She was the first African American woman named to the national board of the YWCA. She was an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Dr. Brown died in 1961 of heart failure

Click here to watch a short video on Heart Failure – What You Need to Know

Photo Image: Kim Burell
Date: February 8, 2016

Kim Burell (August 26, 1972 - ) is a famous American gospel singer with one of the most recognizable and boisterous voices in the industry, earning her the nick-name "The Voice." She calls her musical style jazz gospel. Though she is comparatively new to the gospel music industry, having only performed since 1989, she has quickly become one of the most influential voices in the genre, often said to be "this generation's Ella Fitzgerald." In 2010, she founded The Love & Liberty Fellowship Pentecostal Overcoming Holy Church, where she serves as Senior Eldress/Overseer-Bishop. Ms. Burell is a Grammy nominee and multiple heart attack survivor from Houston, Texas.  
photo credit: copy credit: Wikipedia

Learn the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack and what you should know about recovering from a heart attack and other heart events.

Photo Image: Odetta Holmes
Date: February 10, 2016

Odetta Holmes (December 31, 1930 – December 2, 2008), was an American singer, actress, guitarist, songwriter and a civil and human rights activist, often referred to as The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement. Her musical repertoire consisted largely of American folk music, blues, jazz and spirituals. She was influential to many of the key figures of the folk-revival of that time, including Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin. Time included her song Take This Hammer on its list of the All-Time 100 Songs, stating that Rosa Parks was her No. 1 fan, and Martin Luther King, Jr. called her the queen of American folk music. Holmes was the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the National Endowment for the Arts' National Medal of Arts, presented by President Bill Clinton in 1999. In November 2008, Holme’s health began to decline and she began receiving treatment at Lenox Hill Hospital in NewYork. She had hoped to perform at Barack Obama's inauguration on January 20, 2009, but on December 2, 2008, she died from heart disease in New York City.
photo credit: mp3xl.netcopy credit: Wikipedia

North Shore LIJ/Lenox Hill Hospital is proud member of WomenHeart’s National Hospital Alliance

Photo Image: Hattie McDaniel
Date: February 12, 2016

Hattie McDaniel (June 10, 1895 – October 26, 1952) was an American actress, singer-songwriter, and comedienne. She is best known for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939) for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first African American to win an Academy Award. McDaniel was the first black woman to sing on the radio in the U.S. During her career, McDaniel appeared in over 300 films, although she received screen credits for only 80 or so. McDaniel has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood: one at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard for her contributions to radio and one at 1719 Vine Street for acting in motion pictures. In 1975, she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and in 2006 became the first black Oscar winner honored with a US postage stamp. Unexpectedly, she suffered a heart attack in 1951 but ultimately died of breast cancer in 1952.

Photo Image: Mary McLeod Bethune
Date: February 13, 2016

 Mary McLeod Bethune (July 10, 1875 – May 18, 1955) was an American educator and life rights leader best known for starting a private school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, FL. She attracted donations of time and money, and developed the academic school as a college. It later continued to develop as Bethune Cookman University. She also was appointed as a national adviser to President Franklin Roosevelt as part of what was known as his Black Cabinet. She was known as "The First Lady of The Struggle" because of her commitment to gain better lives for African Americans. Born in Mayesville, SC, to parents who had been slaves, she started working in fields with her family at age five. She took an early interest in becoming educated; and with the help of benefactors, attended college hoping to become a missionary in Africa. Bethune maintained high standards and promoted the school with tourists and donors, to demonstrate what educated African Americans could do. She was president of the college from 1923 to 1942, and 1946 to 1947. She was one of the few women in the world to serve as a college president at that time. In 1935 Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women in New York City, bringing together representatives of 28 different organizations to work to improve the lives of black women and their communities. On May 18, 1955, Bethune died of a heart attack. Her death was followed by editorial tributes in African-American newspapers across the United States. The Oklahoma City Black Dispatch stated she was, "Exhibit No. 1 for all who have faith in America and the democratic process." The Atlanta Daily World said her life was, "One of the most dramatic careers ever enacted at any time upon the stage of human activity." And the Pittsburgh Courier wrote, "In any race or nation she would have been an outstanding personality and made a noteworthy contribution because her chief attribute was her indomitable soul."

Photo Image: Lena Horne
Date: February 14, 2016

Lena Horne (June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010) was an African American singer, dancer, actress, and civil rights activist. Her career spanned over 70 years appearing in film, television and on Broadway. In 1958, Horne became the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Tony Award for "Best Actress in a Musical" (for her part in the Calypso musical Jamaica). Her civil rights activism included speaking and performing on behalf of the NAACP, SNCC, and the National Council of Negro Women and working with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass anti-lynching laws. Lena Horne died of heart failure
 on May 9, 2010, in New York City.

Photo Image: Mary Ellen Pleasant
Date: February15, 2016

Mary Ellen Pleasant (born August 19, 1814 - January 4, 1904) was a 19th-century African American entrepreneur widely known as Mistress Pleasant. She identified herself as "a capitalist by profession" in the 1890 Unites States Census. People called her mammy pleasant but she did not approve. Mistress Pleasant used her fortune to further the abolitionist movement. She worked on the Underground Railroad across many states and then helped bring it to California during the Gold Rush Era. She was a friend and financial supporter of John Brown, and was well known in abolitionist circles. After the Civil War, she took her battles to the courts in the 1860s and won several civil rights victories, one of which was cited and upheld in the 1980s and resulted in her being called “The Mother of Human Rights in California.” Pleasant died in 1904 of heart failure.

Photo Image: Star Jones
Date: February 17, 2016

Starlet Marie "Star" Jones (March 24, 1962 - ) is an American lawyer, journalist, writer, television personality, fashion designer and women's and diversity advocate. She is most well known as one of the original hosts of the ABC weekday morning talk show The View, on which she appeared from 1997 to 2006. She was also one of sixteen contestants of the fourth installment of Celebrity Apprentice, coming in fifth place. In 2010 Star Jones discovered she had heart disease and needed open heart surgery to repair a damaged aortic valve. Jones uses her experience to raise awareness of heart disease and the importance of living heart healthy.
Photo credit: copy credit: wikipedia,

Click the links for more information on heart valves and recovering after a major heart event.  

Photo Image: Gloria Lavern Collins “Lyn Collins”
Date: February 19, 2016

Gloria Lavern Collins, better known as Lyn Collins (June 12, 1948 – March 13, 2005), was an African-American soul singer best known for working with James Brown in the 1970s and for the influential 1972 funk single "Think (About It)". Contrary to some reports, she is not related to Bootsy and Catfish Collins. Born in Lexington, TX, she began her recording career at age 14. Her biggest solo hit was the James Brown-produced gospel-style song "Think (About It)", from her 1972 album of the same name on People Records. The song contains five breaks which have been widely sampled in hip-hop, and drum and bass. In February 2005, Collins embarked on her first ever solo tour. For three weeks, she performed in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The tour was produced by the Soul power organization. Shortly after returning from her European tour, Collins died at age 56 in Pasadena, CA of cardiac arrhythmia.

For information on arrhythmia click here

Photo Image: Madame C.J.Walker
Date: February 20, 2016

Madam CJ Walker, born Sarah Breedlove,  (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919), was an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and the first female self-made millionaire in America. She made her fortune by developing and marketing a line of beauty and hair products for black women under the company she founded, Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. She died of a heart attack at age fifty-two.

Madame C.J. Walker’s daughter Leila later died from high blood pressure, a risk factor of heart disease. It’s important to know your risk factors so you can be informed. Click here to learn more about risk factors of heart disease such as high blood pressure and family history.

Photo Image: Marjorie Lee Browne
Date: February 21, 2016

Marjorie Lee Browne (September 9, 1914 – October 19, 1979) was a noted mathematics educator. Browne was born in Tennessee in 1914. Her mother died when she was only two years old, and she was raised by her stepmother and her father, Lawrence Johnson Lee. Her father, a railway postal clerk, was also a "math wizard" who shared his passion for mathematics with his children. She attended LeMoyne High School, a private Methodist school started after the Civil War to offer education for African Americans. She won the Memphis city women's tennis singles championship while she was in high school. She attended Howard University, majoring in mathematics and graduating cum laude in 1935. After receiving her Bachelor's degree, she taught high school and college for a short term, including a period at Gilbert Academy in New Orleans. She was one of the first African-American women in the US to earn a doctorate in mathematics, along with Evelyn Boyd Granville who also earned a Ph.D. in 1949. Euphemia Haynes was the very first African-American woman in the US to earn a doctorate in mathematics, having earned hers in 1943. The University of Michigan Department of Mathematics established the Dr. Marjorie Lee Browne Colloquium in 1999. The colloquium is presented each year during the University of Michigan's Martin Luther King Day activities. Marjorie Lee Browne died of a heart attack in Durham, NC, on October 19, 1979. 

Copy credit: Wikipedia

Photo Image: Daisy Bates
Date: February 22, 2016

Daisy Bates (November 11, 1914 – November 4, 1999) was a mentor to the Little Rock Nine, the African-American students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock in 1957. She and the Little Rock Nine gained national and international recognition for their courage and persistence during the desegregation of Central High when Governor Orval Faubus ordered members of the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the entry of black students. She and her husband, Lucious Christopher (L.C.) Bates, published the Arkansas State Press, a newspaper dealing primarily with civil rights and other issues in the black community. Bates died of a heart attack in 1999.
Photo credit: copy credit: wikipedia.
For more information on heart attack signs and symptoms click here.

Photo image: Mahalia Jackson
Date: February 24, 2016

 Mahalia Jackson (October 26, 1911 – January 27, 1972) was an American gospel singer. Possessing a powerful contralto voice she was referred to as "The Queen of Gospel." She became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world and was heralded internationally as a singer and civil rights activist. She was described by entertainer Harry Belafonte as "the single most powerful black woman in the United States." She recorded about 30 albums (mostly for Columbia Records) during her career, and her 45 rpm records included a dozen "golds"—million-sellers. In 1950, Jackson became the first gospel singer to perform at Carnegie Hall. Jackson died in Chicago on January 27, 1972 at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, Illinois, of heart failure and diabetes complications. Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease. Learn more about diabetes by clicking here.
For more information on heart failure click here

image credit: Copy credit: Wikipedia

Photo Image: Ella Fitzgerald
Date: February 26, 2016

Ella Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996) was an American jazz singer, often referred to as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz and Lady Ella. She was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing. By the 1980s, Fitzgerald experienced serious health problems. She had heart surgery in 1986 and had been suffering from diabetes. The disease left her blind and led to her having both legs amputated in 1994. She made her last recording in 1989 and her last public performance was in 1991 at New York's Carnegie Hall. Ella Fitzgerald died on June 15, 1996 at her home in Beverly Hills.
* Photo credit: copy credit: Wikipedia

Photo Image: Dina Piersawl
Date: February 28, 2016

Dina Piersawl, WomenHeart’s very own WomenHeart Champion and Board of Directors member. A chemist for over 30 years, Mrs. Piersawl developed many of the products you see in the stores today. Currently, Piersawl is a chemist for Ecoco, Inc. (The makers of Eco Styler gel). When Piersawl first starter at Ecoco they had four styling gels, today with her formulas, they have over 20 brands. Revenue has grown from 5 million to 12 million, more than doubling their sales. One of her formulas, Ecoco Curl ‘N Styling Cocktail, was naturally curly 2015 Editors Choice Winners for custard gel! Piersawl is a heart disease survivor and advocate.
For more information on WomenHeart and how to become a WomenHeart Champion click here!

Piersawl is a heart disease survivor and advocate who joined WomenHeart after having a stroke caused by high blood pressure.

Click here for more information on WomenHeart and how to become a WomenHeart Champion like Dina!

* Photo Image: Carter G. Woodson
* Date: February 29, 2016


Carter G. Woodson

Our honorary male heart patient goes to Carter G. Woodson because without him we wouldn’t have Black History Month – a special time when we celebrate the accomplishments of black men and women. Carter G. Woodson (December 19, 1875 – April 3, 1950) was an African-American historian, author, journalist and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Woodson was one of the first scholars to study African American history and one of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate from Harvard. He was a founder of The Journal of Negro History in 1915 and in 1926 went on to pioneer the celebration of Negro History Week designated for the second week in February, to coincide with marking the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. The week of recognition became accepted and has been extended as the full month of February, now known as Black History Month. He also wrote many historical works, including the 1933 book The Mis-Education of the Negro. Woodson died suddenly from a heart attack in 1950.


Symptoms of a heart attack can be very different in women than in men. Find out more about the signs and symptoms here

photo credit: copy credit: wikipedia 

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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) patient advocacy organization with thousands of members nationwide, including women heart patients and their families, health care providers, advocates and consumers committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. WomenHeart supports, educates and advocates on behalf of the nearly 48 million American women living with or at risk of heart disease. Our programs are made possible by donations, grants and corporate partnerships.

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