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Dolores Marino's Story
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At age 61, Dolores is the picture of health, which is surprising when you consider that she had open heart surgery just two years ago. "I have always been a very active person,” says Dolores, "so I was scared and shocked when I found out that I had heart disease.” She first felt depressed by the discovery of her medical condition, but then realized "I could still have a very similar lifestyle to the one I had before being diagnosed, as long as I led a heart-healthy life and made smarter choices. My life, in fact, became even better!”  

A registered nurse, Dolores is probably better informed about health issues than the average person, but even she ignored her own signs of heart disease. At the age of 44 she discovered, through routine screening, that she had high cholesterol. While she did take that news seriously, she didn’t pay attention to the early heart disease symptoms such as shortness of breath while on a hike with her husband. "The further up the canyon we climbed, the worse I felt,” Dolores remembers.  "My back hurt directly between my shoulder blades.  We kept walking and my left arm was starting to go numb.  As it turned out, all these symptoms put together equaled a heart attack!” But the symptoms started to go away as they were driving home, says Dolores. "I told myself, "It wasn't a heart attack after all; you are just too old to do these hikes.”” 

Luckily for Dolores, she had a routine physical exam already scheduled for the next week, and her doctor wisely sent her on for further testing, which ultimately revealed Dolores’ heart disease. "I had been having symptoms of heart disease for at least two years” she says, "and had been ignoring them or denying they were heart-related.” 

Today Dolores works with WomenHeart to tell her story to others and spread the news that women can take control of their lives, even while living with heart disease. "I think the biggest misconception about heart disease is that it is a crippling disease,” exclaims Dolores. "A recently diagnosed person with heart disease can overcome heart disease symptoms through medications, a heart healthy diet, lifestyle changes, frequent exercise and keeping a positive attitude.” She especially encourages people to get informed about their family history and get support through "informative associations like WomenHeart — where you can identify with others just like yourself and learn more about how to live with this disease and not have it become a negative factor.” 

Please support the important work of WomenHeart by making a donation today!

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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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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a founding partner of The Heart Truth Red Dress campaign. The Heart Truth and Red Dress are trademarks of HHS.