Open the Door to Heart Healthy Living

Mary PawlentyAHA4

First Lady Mary Pawlenty’s
“Heart Health Initiative”


Dorothy Richburg Survivor Story


Janet Woodside Survivor Story


Raising Heart-Healthy Families


Go Red Seminar and Luncheon


2006 Twin Cities Heart Walk


CPR Anytime


Train To End Stroke

Go Red For Women

Go Red For Women is the American Heart Association’s national movement educating women to take charge of their heart health by taking action. Red represents the power of women and the importance of cardiovascular disease prevention and awareness.

Cardiovascular disease claims the lives of about 500,000 women each year. It’s time to do something about this statistic! The goal of Go Red For Women is to spread the word about cardiovascular disease risk factors, signs and symptoms, and prevention.

On February 3 as part of National Wear Red Day, the American Heart Association is asking women to Go Red—by wearing red or incorporating more red into their diet with apples, tomatoes and cherries. Red is so much more than a color. It’s the power
of women investing in their heart health.

For more information, visit, call the American Heart Association national office at 1-888-MY-HEART, or the local office at 952-278-3621. Make red your color and help save women’s lives.

Mary Pawlenty puts her HEART into national campaign

First Lady Mary Pawlenty does not have cardiovascular disease.

What she does have, as a district court judge, is the ability to see how—when empowered with information and support—people can make better life choices.

And as a woman with two young daughters, a close bond with her mother and many good friends, she wants to take care of the women in her life—and the women in their lives—by spreading the word about the dangers of cardiovascular disease and how women can protect themselves against it.

In October the First Lady launched an awareness campaign called “Heart Health Initiative” designed to help Minnesota women recognize their risks of cardiovascular disease. She has partnered with the American Heart Association and their “Go Red For Women” public awareness movement and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and “The Heart Truth” campaign to get the word out to as many women as possible.

“I’m pulling alongside both organizations to raise awareness. They have both done an amazing job, and I will do what I can to lend my voice to their cause,” Mary explains.


More women die of cardiovascular disease than from all forms of cancer combined, including breast cancer. According to the American Heart Association, it is the number one killer in the country. Heart disease and stroke claim the life of about one out of every 2.5 women. They affect women of all ages and ethnicities—no one is immune.

These startling statistics grabbed Mary’s attention and wouldn’t let go. The high numbers proved to her that not enough women are aware of the risk factors and symptoms of heart disease and stroke. If more women knew the health threats and how to take action, she reasoned, maybe the numbers would change.

“It’s so important to get the message out there,” Mary says. “There is something that women can do to reduce nearly all of their risk factors, with the exception of age and family history. We need to empower women to take control of their health.”

The First Lady discussed her “Heart Health Initiative” at the Science and Leadership Symposium for Women with Heart Disease, sponsored by the Mayo Clinic and WomenHeart, on October 9. More than 60 women from across the country were trained as community educators and advocates for early detection, accurate diagnosis and proper treatment of heart disease.

It was beautiful how the women were willing to share their personal stories, Mary explains. Listening to a person—rather than simply reading a statistic—can have a powerful effect on an audience.

One theme that kept resurfacing was that of misdiagnosis. Women often experience different symptoms than men, and sometimes these symptoms are shrugged off as something less serious.

One speaker explained that she had to keep going back to the doctor and finally insist that something was really wrong. Eventually she discovered that she was badly in need of surgery.

“The bottom line is that being persistent saved her life,” Mary says. “I learned that women know their own bodies and know when something is wrong. They need to be encouraged to go to their medical provider and demand, ‘I need to get this checked out.’ They can’t give up. Women need to take steps to advocate for their own health.”

Making wise lifestyle choices and living a heart-healthy life includes eating a diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol, getting regular exercise, not smoking (or quitting if you do smoke), maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress constructively, and monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Mary, and their daughters, Anna and Mara, stay heart-healthy by taking power hikes together through various county and state parks. Both Tim and Mary ran the Twin Cities Marathon this fall. They prefer to spend their time outside, doing something active, rather than cooped up in front of the TV.

“It’s not essential to sign yourself up for a marathon, it’s just essential to get moving at any level,” Mary says. “Running hasn’t always been my exercise routine. Before I was a runner, I was an avid walker. Make some form of regular exercise part of your life.”
The Pawlentys also try to strike a healthy balance at mealtime. If they eat pizza one night, they make sure to have a nutritious, low-fat meal the next.

“Our children are open to fruits and vegetables and different healthy foods,” Mary comments. “We enjoy a wide variety.”
In order to fight—and win—the battle against cardiovascular disease, women need to be proactive about their health and the habits they’re teaching their family. Spreading awareness to other women and understanding the warning signs and risk factors of cardiovascular disease can also make a world of difference.

According to the First Lady, “If we can save even one life, or help women to be aware of heart disease and stroke because of something we’ve said in the course of this initiative, I would say this campaign is a success.”

For more information about First Lady Mary Pawlenty’s “Heart Health Initiative,” visit

How do I know if I’m having a stroke, heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest?

Heart attack warning signs:
Not many heart attacks happen the way they’re portrayed in the movies, where the victim clutches their chest and falls over in pain. Many heart attacks start as a mild pain or discomfort. Some symptoms even come and go. Even if there’s question as to whether or not you’re experiencing a heart attack, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  • Chest discomfort (uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, pain)
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body (pain in the arms, shoulders, neck, jaw, under the rib cage, in the back or stomach)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweats
  • Dizziness
  • Flu-like symptoms such as nausea or vomiting
  • Unexplained fatigue or weakness

Stroke warning signs:

According to the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, these are the warning signs of stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Signs of cardiac arrest:

  • Sudden loss of responsiveness. No response to gentle shaking.
  • No normal breathing. The victim does not take a normal breath when you check for several seconds.
  • No signs of circulation. No movement or coughing.

With a stroke, heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest, dial 911 immediately. Every second counts. In order for some drugs to be effective, they must be administered relatively quickly after heart attack or stroke symptoms first appear. Clot-busting drugs can stop some heart attacks and strokes in progress, reducing disability and saving lives. It’s vital to get blood moving to the brain again as quickly as possible.

Source: American Heart Association

Heart disease surivivor learns to slow down and appreciate life

As the president of a successful business, Dorothy Richburg was a self-described workaholic striving for near perfection in everything she did.

Working seven days a week at Keystone Computer Solutions, Inc. was the norm. She became so caught up in the business, that taking care of herself (and her health) fell to the bottom of her list of priorities.

Dorothy’s life was forced to slow down one day in 1998 when she suddenly felt ill at work. She became dizzy and nauseated. Her skin felt clammy and she had to lie down on the floor of her office for fear that she might pass out.

The paramedics came and took her to the hospital. After running tests, the doctors told Dorothy that she had suffered a heart attack.
She was 48.

According to Dr. Priscilla Hedberg, a cardiologist at the St. Paul Heart Clinic and the medical director of the HealthEast Care System’s “Women’s Heart Advantage” program, a woman can reduce her risk factors by exercising regularly, not smoking, and controlling blood sugars, blood lipids and blood pressure.

According to the American Heart Association, African American women are more susceptible to high blood pressure and are at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease than Caucasian women.

Dorothy had nearly every risk factor. She was overweight and ate foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol. As a result, she had an elevated blood pressure. Her family history of heart disease was astounding. Four siblings under the age of 45 died of heart attacks. Her father died of a heart attack in his thirties. Her mother died of heart disease in her sixties.

Recognizing the risk factors and modifying them is more helpful than any test could ever be, says Dr. Hedberg. “If many factors are present, you are at risk, even if a test says you aren’t.”


At a business meeting in 2002, Dorothy felt ill again, this time with chest pressure. She was raced to the hospital where she had quadruple bypass surgery. The heart disease they repaired was extensive. Dorothy was diabetic, had high blood pressure and had damaged the lower part of her heart.

“In 1998, I thought I needed to make some changes. I cut down on fatty foods and started exercising,” Dorothy says. “In 2002, I felt I needed to make some drastic changes.”

She joined HealthPartners intensive five-month class designed for adults with heart disease, and learned about nutrition, stress management and physical activity. She increased her exercise program to five days a week. She adopted a vegetarian diet and watched her carbohydrates, fats, sugar and salt intake. She lost 45 pounds, and hopes to lose even more.

Not only has her diet changed dramatically (Dorothy will eat fish occasionally, but gave up red meat for good), but her work schedule has changed, too. She now works five days a week and takes the days as they come. She has learned to slow down and appreciate valuable time with her husband, Joe, daughters Khari and Kisha, extended family, friends and Keystone staff.

Her perspective has changed. Instead of striving for near perfection in everything she does, she strives for excellence and is content with the outcome.

“I feel I have a good balance between work, home and ‘me’ time,” she says. “I give thanks and praise to the Lord all the time. I enjoy the little things. I am at peace.”

HEART ATTACK survivor urges women to trust their instincts

A woman’s intuition is a powerful thing indeed.

Even without any warning signs or outstanding risk factors, Janet Woodside just seemed to know that she was having a heart attack.
It was February 15, 1999, and Janet, 65, was working out on the treadmill before breakfast, like she did most mornings.

On this particular morning, however, she broke into a cold sweat and felt weak and nauseous. She remained calm, even though she instinctively knew she was having a problem with her heart. Janet grabbed an aspirin on her way through the kitchen, called 911, unlocked the front door, then sat on a lounge chair and waited for an ambulance to arrive. In about five minutes, the police, paramedics and her husband, Jim, arrived at the same time.

“At this point, I didn’t have any chest pain,” Janet says. While some women do have the same heart attack symptoms as men, such as crushing chest pain, many have different symptoms such as extreme fatigue, dizziness, clamminess, nausea, shortness of breath, pain in the back, shoulder, jawbone or throat, or a sensation that feels like heartburn.

As a retired Mounds Park Hospital nurse, Janet knew how important it was to follow her instincts. She didn’t need to be in excruciating pain to know that what she was feeling wasn’t right. Following those instincts—and acting quickly—could very well have saved her life.

She was taken by ambulance to HealthEast St. Joseph’s Hospital in downtown St. Paul, and treated in the emergency room by a “terrific team of doctors and nurses,” Janet explains.

The rest of her family arrived at the hospital, and she was transferred to the Cardiac Special Care Unit. Janet was in that unit for only a short time before going into cardiac arrest.

When she woke up, she was intubated and on her way to the Heart Catheterization Lab, where Dr. Patrick Koller performed an angioplasty and inserted a stent. The angioplasty opened up the blocked artery in her heart that was causing the heart attack. After three days, Janet was transferred out of special care and began rehabilitation. After about a week, she was sent home.

Over 240,000 women a year are not as fortunate. According to the American Heart Association, over 240,000 women die of heart disease every year.


Janet describes the entire experience as “pretty scary,” but says she stayed calm due to the wonderful support from Dr. Koller, her family, her pastor, and God. It was a blessing that she knew to act quickly when the symptoms first surfaced.

“In the beginning, the outlook was not good,” she says. “But here I am six and a half years later, one grateful woman.”
Since the heart attack, Janet says she has adopted an “attitude of gratitude.”

“I try not to sweat the small stuff. My family is incredibly important to me, as are friends, God and my church family,” she says.
In order to keep her heart strong, she follows a heart-healthy diet (low-sodium and low-fat) and exercises regularly. She enjoys quilting, embroidery, gardening and church activities. She loves spending time with her husband, Jim (they recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary), her three grown children and seven grandchildren. Three days a week, Janet attends a cardiac rehabilitation program at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“I find it very helpful,” she explains. “Our group has been together for a long time, and we’ve become friends as well as a support group.”

The best advice she can give to other women is to trust their intuition and follow their instincts.

She comments, “Seek help if you feel something is ‘not right’ with your body. Don’t worry about feeling silly. Pay attention and get the help you need.”

The lives of 240,000 women a year depend on it.

Raising Heart-Healthy Families

The children are the future, and here’s a wake-up call.

If the epidemic of childhood obesity continues like it has been, the future could include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, poor sleeping habits, less energy, low self-esteem, heart disease and stroke. Average life spans could be cut by anywhere from two to five years, resulting in the current generation of kids becoming the first in American history to live shorter lives than their parents.

Some future, huh?

The goal of the American Heart Association and partnering organizations is to get kids on the path to good health at an early age, stopping the cycle of overweight parents raising overweight children who often grow up to become overweight adults.

The key to turning the tide of this epidemic is getting kids to appreciate physical activity at a young age. The American Heart Association recently released “Dietary Recommendations for Children and Adolescents: A Guide for Practitioners,” endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, focusing on total caloric intake and eating behaviors.

One of the recommendations is that kids ages two and up get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.
This can be accomplished by taking your family on nature hikes, going to the batting cages, packing a picnic lunch and going on a long bike ride, even playing a carefree game of tag. If you’re on a long road trip, bring a Frisbee along so you can burn up some energy at the rest stops. Show your toddler how to “hop like a bunny,” “crawl like a tiger,” and “stretch like a cat.” Disguise family chores as a fun contest. (Such as: Who can pick the most weeds? Rake the most leaves? Shovel the most snow?) Limit your child’s overall TV, Internet or video game time.

With the National Center for Health Statistics estimating that 15 percent of young people ages six to 17 are considered overweight, it’s also essential to teach good eating habits, starting in infancy.

“Foods given to babies today are less nutritious than 10 or 20 years ago,” says Dr. Samuel Gidding, chair of the writing committee and professor of pediatric cardiology at Jefferson Medical College. “By 19 months of age, on any given day, one-third of toddlers eat no fruit, and french fries are the most commonly consumed vegetable. We’re concerned that poor diets have begun to seem normal—if someone else’s baby is eating french fries, why can’t mine? We want to point out that these practices are providing poor nutrition and causing kids to be overweight at their two month checkups.”

The intent isn’t to count calories, but to be aware that kids who aren’t active need nutrient-dense foods and beverages (with little added sugar or fat) to avoid excess calories. Foods with little nutritional value—or “empty calories”—don’t support optimal growth and development.

Another dietary recommendation includes the delay of juice in a child’s diet until at least six months old, and then only giving them 100 percent fruit juice (no more than four to six ounces a day). Parents who eat healthy show their kids how to eat healthy, and one way of doing this is by stocking the kitchen with nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables rather than high-calorie, high-fat junk food treats. If your kids refuse to eat their veggies, try this technique—let them choose some fruits or vegetables the next time you go grocery shopping, and then include them in the food preparation. It’s also important to never bribe your kids with food as a reward (such as, “If you eat all of your beans, you’ll get dessert.”) This sends the message that dessert is the best food and your child may learn to value sweets above everything else. Another heart-healthy mealtime tip is to try and eat dinner together at the table. Eating in front of the TV encourages mindless munching.

Other dietary recommendations include reducing the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages and foods, using skim or low-fat milk, eating more baked and broiled fish, eating more fruits and vegetables, limiting fried foods, serving only lean cuts of meat, using vegetable oils and soft margarines instead of butter, reducing salt intake, eating whole grain breads and cereals, and not overfeeding.

Estimated calorie needs range from 900 per day for a one-year-old to 1800 calories per day for a 14 to 18-year-old girl, and 2200 for a 14 to 18-year-old boy.

Go Red For Women Seminar and Luncheon

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women Seminar and Luncheon, part of the larger Go Red For Women movement, will take place on Thursday, February 9 at the Radisson Riverfront Hotel Saint Paul. The event will begin at 9 a.m. and end by 1:30 p.m. Breakout sessions will take place from 9:30 a.m. to noon, with the luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m.

“We hope to accomplish three things,” says Barbara Ducharme, the association’s Go Red For Women director. “To make women aware that cardiovascular disease is their number one killer; to educate them on how to reduce their risks of developing cardiovascular disease; and to raise money to reinvest into women’s cardiovascular programs and research.”

Last year around 400 people attended the seminar and luncheon and approximately $250,000 was raised. Over 90 percent of the money raised was reinvested into women’s heart health programs and research.

The goal this year is to bring in up to 700 people.

The guest speaker is Darlene Westgor of Burnsville, Nick at Nite’s TV winner of the “Funniest Mom in America” talent showcase. Westgor won $50,000 and a development deal for her own Nick at Nite show.

Seminar topics include “Eating Healthy on a Budget,” “Heart Healthy Family Activities,” “Stress Management and Reduction,” “Healthy Ethnic Cooking,” “Health Literacy,” “Sudden Cardiac Death,” and “Meditation.” There will also be mini-makeovers, mini-massages, a silent auction and a health fair.

For more information or to make a reservation for the Go Red For Women Seminar and Luncheon, send an email to Barbara at or call 952-278-3621. Tickets are $100 each ($75 is tax-deductible).

2006 Twin Cities HEART WALK

Fight back against cardiovascular disease during the 2006 Twin Cities Heart Walk set for Saturday, February 25 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Mall of America, West Market. There is no registration fee, but walkers are encouraged to raise funds for the American Heart Association. The funds are used for cardiovascular disease research and education.

“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Minnesota,” says Dick Pettingill, 2006 chair of the Twin Cities Heart Walk and the CEO of Allina Hospitals & Clinics. “Allina is deeply concerned about improving health—of our patients and of the community. Participating in the Heart Walk is one way we raise awareness of heart disease and help save lives. We’re proud to join other health care providers and companies to make the Heart Walk a success.”

To register, go to

Stop. Drop and Move! Parents motivating children to move

Helping kids become successful in school and in life requires parents to become proactive in teaching their kids about nutrition and fitness. These lessons can be translated into lifelong habits of healthy living.

No Parent Left Behind (NPLB), a nonprofit parent support and network organization, was created to encourage parents to help their kids make better choices.

Through the “Stop. Drop and Move” campaign, NPLB is working to create an awareness movement of the importance of physical activity and good nutrition.

“We’re hoping to do various activities throughout the year,” explains Cheryle Carter, director of No Parent Left Behind. Carter, who is the mother of a first and fifth grader, hopes parents take advantage of the resources available to reverse the trend of poor nutrition and exercise. For more information, visit

LEARN CPR at home with affordable, easy-to-use kits

A person can suffer cardiac arrest anywhere: at home, at church, in a restaurant, at the community center, in the mall, at the park. Someone who knows effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can help make the difference between life and death.
The problem is that too few people know effec-tive CPR.

The American Heart Association hopes to change this through CPR Anytime for Family and Friends, a simple, affordable way for people to learn CPR for under $30 in less than 25 minutes. The kit consists of a CPR manikin, 22-minute DVD and resource booklet. The American Heart Association’s goal is for each person who receives a kit to take it home and share it with other family members, increasing the number of potential rescuers. The kits allow families to refresh their skills on a regular basis.

St. Paul Academy and Summit School students participated in the trial study of the project last year, in honor of a classmate who died.

“There was a strong community connection,” explains Judy Cummins, dean of students. “The question on a number of students minds was, ‘If I had known CPR, could I have made a difference?’”

The kits—100 of them—were donated to the school as part of the research project. Seniors and junior leadership students participated. The students trained teachers, family members, other students and friends.

“After the training, I felt very confident that I could perform CPR,” says Rory Collins, a senior who participated in the program last year. “I feel better knowing that I could help if an emergency arose.”

The kits can be purchased by visiting or by calling 1-877-AHA-4CPR.

Train To End STROKE

Train To End Stroke is a marathon training and fundraising program sponsored by the American Stroke Association,
a division of the American Heart Association. Participants train with coaches and volunteers to walk or run a half
or full marathon.

Upcoming events include P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n Roll Arizona Marathon on January 15, the ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon on January 29, San Diego’s Musical Marathon on June 4 and the Kunitake Farms Kona Marathon and Half Marathon in Hawaii on June 11. Funds raised support the lifesaving research and education of the American Stroke Association.

Not exactly a distance runner? That’s OK. The training program is designed for all levels of ability. Over 94 percent of Train To End Stroke participants have never completed a full or half marathon, and over 60 percent walk instead of run. Qualified running and walking coaches help with weekly trainings and provide a schedule for weekday workouts.

The fundraising minimum varies from city to city. Seventy percent of the amount raised goes toward research and educational programs of the American Stroke Association. The remaining 30 percent pays for travel and administrative expenses.

A fundraising coach can help participants develop a plan, including access to a personal web page. Each participant is also paired up with a mentor who has completed Train To End Stroke in the past. The mentor can share fundraising (and motivating) ideas based on their experiences.

All participants are encouraged to choose an inspirational Stroke Hero. If they don’t have one, they can walk or run in honor of an assigned Stroke Hero.

For more information, call 1-888-4-STROKE, visit or send an email to for more details on how to join Train To End Stroke Team Twin Cities.