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Go Red for heart health: HRMC hosts annual ‘Go Red’ event

Posted: Saturday, Feb 23rd, 2013

Dr. Karl Blessinger, HRMC pathologist, gave a cooking demonstration at the Go Red event held in the Campus Center on Thursday. In the next photo, Pat Woolridge, director of emergency services at HRMC, explains how to identify symptoms of a stroke. Next, Trisha Pekron (left) demonstrated the automatic external defibrillator or AED to attendees of HRMC’s Go Red event on Thursday at the Campus Center. And next are shown several ladies listening to Melissa Florey (lower right), of the Women’s Wellness Center, as she talks about ways to incorporate healthier foods and the full rainbow spectrum of fruits and vegetables into a heart-healthy diet. PHOTOS BY KARA GUTORMSON/PLAINSMAN

HURON — While one in 36 women will die from breast cancer, one in three American women dies of a heart attack or stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

On Thursday, Huron Regional Medical Center hosted “Go Red,” an evening full of information, health screenings, a heart-healthy cooking demonstration, samples of heart-healthy recipes, and a presentation featuring local women who have personally experienced the symptoms of a heart attack.

Jennifer Stanfield, 33, was one of the local women who shared her story. At age 29, Stanfield had a massive heart attack.

“I was just working at home on what seemed to be a normal day when I started having wrist pressure, all in the left arm,” said Stanfield. She ignored it for a few hours, thinking it would go away. Then she started feeling worse. “I was getting very weak, I was vomiting for about a half-hour,” she said. Stanfield then called a friend to come to help look after her 9-month-old son, and she went to try to lay down and get some rest.

But Stanfield felt so sick that she decided to go to the hospital. “When I arrived, they told me I looked like a walking corpse,” she said.

Stanfield had to be airlifted to Sioux Falls. Her angiograms revealed that she had tiny blood clots everywhere. The doctors performed an angioplasty and stunted two of her vessels. Her heart had sustained a lot of damage due to the heart attack. “They told me I had about 23 percent of my heart function remaining,” she said. “The doctor told me that he had never seen anybody live through a heart attack that bad.”

Starting in August 2009, she went to cardiac rehab at HRMC three times a week. “Six months after my heart attack, I learned that I gained two-thirds of my heart function back,” she said. “My age has had a lot to do with the recovery.”

Since her heart attack, Stanfield has lost 70 pounds and has quit smoking. “I also eat a lot better than I used to.”

Others who shared their story included Stanfield’s mother, Karen Weeldreyer, 53.

Weeldreyer had a scare last month. “The flu was going around at work, so I thought that was why I wasn’t feeling very well,” said Weeldreyer. “I was so exhausted.”

While watching TV, she suddenly experienced a shooting pain. “I had a pain shoot down my left arm like I’d never had before. It was from my shoulder to my elbow. It left just as quickly as it came.”

Instantly, a red flag went off in her mind, but instead of telling someone about it, Weeldreyer said she chose to wait and see what happened.

The next day came, nothing happened. But two days later, she had more pain, two shooting pains back to back in her left arm. Weeldreyer again ignored it.

The next day, while at work, she experienced more pain and finally made an appointment to see her doctor. But, when it came time to go to her normal appointment, she was seen as an emergency room patient for symptoms of a heart attack.

“Although the test showed I didn’t have a heart attack, I did have the symptoms, and that was enough to make me realize it was serious.”

Melanie Kludt is another local survivor who shared her story at the Go Red event. A CPR instructor, Kludt didn’t think it would ever happen to her. “I was one month shy of 69 years old when I had my heart attack,” she said. “I am probably the epitome of the older person that you think of, the one that’s down the block that is going to have the heart attack, because they are out shoveling snow or mowing the yard.”

Kludt said she should have recognized the signs. “But I’m just like anyone else, and I told myself that’s not what it is.”

Kludt said heart problems run in her immediate and extended family. “I didn’t have the classic symptoms,” she said. She felt back pain, a twinge in her back and near her shoulders. “My idea of pain is slamming a door on my fingers, or the pain during childbirth…and this wasn’t it.”

She drove herself to the emergency room, and the doctors there confirmed that Kludt had experienced a heart attack. She was transferred to the Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls, where she underwent angioplasty in a main artery which was 81 percent blocked.

“I strongly encourage all women to pay attention to their health and symptoms,” she said. “Don’t be embarrassed to get something checked out, and don’t worry about the cost. It’s cheaper than a funeral.”

For the complete article see the 02-22-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 02-22-2013 paper.

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