Dana excelled at swimming from a young age. But in her early teens, she noticed her heart kept racing long after she had climbed out of the pool. Doctors discovered a condition called Long QT Syndrome, which causes abnormally long rest between heart beats. Doctors said that sports were no longer an option for Dana, but she refused to live her life without swimming. After an operation to fix the problem, Dana jumped back into the pool to continue her rigorous training schedule. Dana's mom, Cathy, kept the AED handy, just in case.
It all paid off in Athens, where Dana won a gold medal and set a world record in the 800-meter freestyle relay. Recently, in London, she won the gold medal and set a new world record for the 100-meter butterfly. Dana is a proud ambasador for the American Heart Association to help others understand that heart disease can strike anyone, at any time. And thanks to research through the years -- procedures, treatments and emergency equipment are available to save lives
When Renee awoke one morning nauseous and sweaty, she assumed she had the flu, but called 911 when her symptoms escalated. EMS told her it was just anxiety, but after a visit to the doctor later that day, tests confirmed her suspicion: Renee had experienced a heart attack. In route to another hospital, Renee passed out. After six separate defibrillations, she was finally revived and woke up in the ICU. Realizing the gravity of her situation, she asked the nurse, "Am I out of the woods?" The nurse's face said it all. Despite a slow and challenging recovery, Renee is thankful for her experience. "I got a wake-up call in my 30s that most people don't get until their 60s."
Like most women, before her heart attack, finding balance was hard. As a new mom, Renee put the needs of her family before hers, followed by career and housework. There was simply no time for herself or her health.
Today Renee is taking care of herself through exercises and a heart-healthy diet. Looking back, she feels intense gratitude that she listened to her body and fought to make her heart heard.
"The best thing to do is follow your intuition. If you're tired or don't feel well, go to your doctor and insist that you know your body and that something is wrong."
Renee's story has inspired women to put their health first. As a result, many friends and family have visited their own doctors and gotten their cholesterol and blood pressure checked. Nothing warms Renee's heart more than that.
"I Go Red for all the women out there trying to find balance in their life."
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