North Country woman recognized for healthy lifestyle

In a surprise presentation, the American Heart Association and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield honored a Watertown woman for setting an example and inspiring others with healthy habits.

 Christine Netto, of Watertown, received the Live Fierce Reduce Your Risk Award on Thursday, December 15th while working in the North Elementary School library. She is a library teacher assistant in the Watertown City School District. Netto’s husband, friends, and even some students, were able to join in on the surprise.

“I am so proud of Chris and her hard work in reaching her health goals,” said Stacy Spaziani, regional director for the American Heart Association, who presented the award. “She set a goal of losing weight, exercising more, eating healthy, and most importantly to control her blood pressure so that didn’t have to take medicine anymore.  She achieved every one of those goals and is still going strong!”

The Live Fierce Reduce Your Risk Award, sponsored by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, recognizes the meaningful impact of an individual, physician, or organization championing blood pressure management. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known as the silent killer because it typically has no symptoms, but can lead to deadly health consequences such as heart attack, stroke and more.

Netto began her journey to control her blood pressure in 2016 when she joined the American Heart Association’s BetterU program. At the time, Netto said she had been on blood pressure medication for years. The BetterU program helped Netto learn healthy habits like exercise and nutrition programs she could stick with long term, sine she considered accountability to be an important element.

Since completing the program, Netto has lowered her blood pressure enough to cut her blood pressure medication in half and maintained her lower blood pressure levels, even through the pandemic. She has been an inspiration to others on their own health journeys.

North Country woman recognized for healthy lifestyle

Christine Netto, left, and Stacy Spaziani, right

“My family has a history of high blood pressure,” said Netto. “After participating with the BetterU program organized by Stacy Spaziani, I not only lost weight, but my cardiologist took me off my blood pressure medication and I have maintained that since 2017. Stacy motivated our group by encouraging us to maintain a healthy life. She exposed us to healthy cooking classes, various exercise programs and weekly challenges. Without Stacy’s guidance and encouragement, I would not have been able to achieve my success.”

“As a local non-profit health plan, we share the American Heart Association’s mission of helping those in our communities live healthier lives,” said Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Regional President Eve Van de Wal.  “We are proud to sponsor the Live Fierce Award and celebrate individuals like Christine who’ve made remarkable lifestyle changes in the pursuit of improved health and wellbeing. We congratulate Christine on all she has accomplished!”