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Taking care of the heart

February 15, 2014
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

Besides being a short month and the one that contains Valentine's Day, February is also American Heart Awareness Month. And this past week in particular, those of us who have congenital heart defects have our own campaign.

I know I should have worn red on Feb. 7 to show my support for heart disease awareness, especially in women, but admittedly, I don't really have red in my wardrobe. So I wore red in spirit. According to the Go Red For Women website, the factors that increase your risk for heart disease include cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, physical inactivity and weight. I keep working on trying to be more active, but sometimes I'll put off exercise. And I tend to eat foods that aren't always good for me. I should lose weight, and yeah, I definitely should get my cholesterol checked.

And I continue to show my support for those affected by CHD and heart disease, well heck, any ailment. Sometimes it's startling to think that congenital heart disease is considered to be the most common birth defect, that it affects 1.8 million families in the United States. Throughout the years, people have come up to me and said that they, too, have a heart defect or ailment of some form. I still find it hard to believe that my little, quiet murmur wasn't discovered for more than 30 years. Then for it to be this defect I never heard of. Well, I wasn't schooled on congenital heart defects, but I sure got an education in a hurry. It seems like when you're diagnosed with something, you want to learn as much as you can about that condition. Finding information on atrioventricular canal wasn't always easy. I still ponder why I was able to survive for so long with all that was wrong with my heart.

But I'm not always thinking about my heart condition. Well not as much as I used to. Sure there are times when I feel like I'm overdoing it, but I press on. But I also know when my body needs a break.

In the last couple of weeks, a woman I know through a couple of different CHD-related websites had a heart attack and has been in a coma.

She has a couple of congenital defects that haven't been repaired. She just turned 46 several days ago, and she's been through a lot. I've been hoping for the best for her in this past week as I look for news via Facebook. There are people all over the country posting well wishes on her Facebook page. It just pains me to see fellow CHDers who fall sick and become hospitalized. Another woman who I knew through these websites died earlier this year. She was only 30 years old. Besides her heart defect, she had suffered a stroke, had problems with her knees and other ailments. Back in January, she had pneumonia and died from complications. Granted I may never have met these women in person, I still feel a bond with them.

I remain determined and hopeful that I will stay strong and heart-healthy. There may be some obstacles along the way, but they're meant to be overcome.



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