‘I started feeling a terrible pain in my chest’: Survivor encourages you to listen to your heart and “Go Red”

METAIRIE, La. -- A teacher at J.D. Miesler Middle School in Metairie, a wife, a step-mother of four -- Mary North says in the 90s she had a lot on her plate -- like most women!

“I was so exhausted! I was eating poorly, I was sleeping poorly. You’re exhausted, but you just keep going,” said North.

She was stressed, but she was too busy to worry about herself, until her health started deteriorating.

“Scaly feet, hair loss, weight gain and I think it was depression. I am not a depressed person,” said North.

Though frustrating, she managed those symptoms for years. But then…

“I started having episodes, feeling a terrible pain in my chest, my arm or in my jaw," said North.

Eventually, Mary’s husband forced her to see someone, not knowing where to turn. She went to a neurologist, he told her there was nothing wrong with her brain. On a whim, she asked if she could just get a cholesterol test since she was there.

“High cholesterol is what started it. I was blocked. The arteries were blocked,” said North.

Eventually, doctors determined that Mary needed bypass surgery and medication. 18 years later, she’s still on meds, but she hasn’t had any problems. She says the key -- taking care of yourself.

“Monitoring what you’re eating, the amount of exercise you’re getting, the amount of stress you’re allowing yourself to control," said North. "So today they classify me as having a heart condition, but I always fight it a little bit. I say I don’t think it’s a heart condition any more. I think we’ve got it under control and I guess that’s the message – you can’t let a diagnosis define you.”

And Mary certainly has not.

80 percent of heart disease in women is preventable through diet, exercise and knowing your key health numbers.
Spread the word by wearing red Friday, for National Wear Red Day.
Don’t forget to share your red selfie on social media with the hashtag #nolagored.
Learn more about heart disease risks by visiting the American Heart Association at heart.org.

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