For four months, Betsy Ames felt a sharp pain in her chest that would quickly come and go. Betsy, a mother of four and owner of Mindful Style, a fashion consulting company that helps clients cultivate an image with less of an environmental impact, insisted that she was fine. Then in December 2010, Betsy experienced a constant dull pain in her chest and a close friend suggested she visit the ER, just to be safe. She’s lucky she did because Betsy had a myocardial infarction, a heart attack.
Betsy, a resident of Maplewood, never believed she could have a heart attack. She presented low risk factors—she maintained a healthy weight, she exercised often, her blood pressure was in a normal range and she had low cholesterol levels. The only possible risk factors were stress and family history. Betsy’s mother had a double bypass surgery at the age of 60.
At the time of her heart attack, Betsy was in denial that this could happen to her. She was just 50 years old and was mindful of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Like many women, Betsy didn’t realize that cardiovascular diseases and stroke cause 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.
“I had no idea I was at risk for a heart attack. As I was having a cardiac catherization to place a stent in my blocked artery, I was in complete disbelief,” shares Betsy. “Now that I have accepted what has happened, I want women everywhere to know that we need to take care of our hearts.”
In 2015, Betsy learned about the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement. Go Red For Women, nationally sponsored by Macy’s, inspires women to make lifestyle changes, mobilize communities and shape policies to save lives. She is now a survivor ambassador in Northern NJ where she participates in Go Red For Women initiatives, such as National Wear Red Day, always the first Friday in February.
“National Wear Red Day is a major awareness campaign to let women know that heart disease and stroke are our biggest health threats,” asserts Betsy. “We can make a fashion statement on Friday, February 5 by wearing red to help improve the heart health of all women.”
Betsy is also involved with the 7th Annual Northern New Jersey Go Red For Women Luncheon which is set to take place on Thursday, February 25 at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange. The Go Red For Women Luncheon is one of the premier women’s events in New Jersey focusing on cardiovascular health and wellness in women. The Go Red For Women Luncheon raises funds to support this lifesaving movement, supporting cutting-edge research, community programs and professional education focused on cardiovascular health.
“The Go Red For Women Luncheon is a day of celebration,” states Betsy. “It’s a chance for heart and stroke survivors to come together to share their story, to raise awareness and to help raise funds for cardiovascular research.”
When you get involved in supporting Go Red For Women by advocating, fundraising and sharing your story, more lives are saved. According to the American Heart Association, in the U.S. about 285 fewer women die from heart disease and stroke each day and cardiovascular disease death in women has decreased by more than 30 percent over the past 10 years. United, we are working to improve the health of all women.
For more information about heart disease and stroke in women, visit www.GoRedForWomen.org. To participate in National Wear Red Day or to learn more about the Northern NJ Go Red For Women Luncheon, call the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association New Jersey office at 609.208.0020 or visit NNJGoRed.Heart.org.