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Healthy heart campaign aims to educate women

Ann Malmberg says she's living proof that anyone can be struck by a deadly heart condition. The 51-year-old administrative nurse at Fargo's Innovis Health watches her diet, exercises regularly, she doesn't smoke and her family has no history of h...

Ann Malmberg says she's living proof that anyone can be struck by a deadly heart condition.

The 51-year-old administrative nurse at Fargo's Innovis Health watches her diet, exercises regularly, she doesn't smoke and her family has no history of heart disease.

Yet on Feb. 7, 2003, the rural Barnesville, Minn., woman suffered a heart attack while she walked the hospital's halls.

"There were no warning symptoms," Malmberg said. "I started having crushing chest pains.

"My arms were numb, totally numb," she said.

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The emergency room doctor told Malmberg he didn't think her pains were caused by a heart attack because she wasn't a candidate for heart disease. Her cardiologist said the same thing.

But further testing showed otherwise.

Doctors removed the arterial blockage that caused Malmberg's heart attack and prescribed medication to reduce her cholesterol.

Without another attack, Malmberg said she should have a normal life expectancy.

Malmberg shared her story Monday as part of "Go Red For Women," the American Heart Association's national campaign to increase awareness about cardiovascular disease among women.

The local campaign was kicked off Monday with a newsconference at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead.

North Dakota first lady Mikey Hoeven and the mayors of Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead attended the conference to help start the campaign.

The national campaign calls for everyone to wear red on Friday in support of all women who have suffered from heart disease or stroke.

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Hoeven said women should make heart health their top priority.

"What we don't know can kill us," she said.

An American Heart Association survey found that only 8 percent of women identified heart disease and stroke as their biggest health threat. Most believe that breast cancer is their leading health problem.

But one of every 2.4 women dies from heart disease. It's the largest killer of women older than 25.

Heart attacks and stroke account for more deaths among women, about 500,000 a year, than nearly twice as many as all forms of cancer, said Kris Olson, a local Go Red For Women volunteer.

On Thursday, the American Heart Association and the Dakota Medical Foundation will sponsor a Go Red For Women dinner and style show at the Ramada Plaza Suites in Fargo.

The event also will include heart health information from local medical professionals.

The dinner and style show is free, but a ticket is required for admission. Tickets are available at the Stop and Go Store at 2701 S. University Drive.

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For more information about the Go Red For Women event call (218) 329-1428.

Women also are encouraged to call 1-888-MY-HEART or visit the Web site, americanheart.org/women, for more information about heart disease.

Malmberg says she has talked to many women who have had chest pains and discounted them as nothing serious.

"Have your blood pressure check, have your cholesterol checked," she said. "Get those routine health screenings.

"Don't think you're immune."

Forum reporter Sherri Richards contributed to this story.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Zent at (701) 241-5526

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