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SELFCARE / WELLNESS

A Conversation with a Heart Survivor

By Meagan Bess

February marked another year to focus on American Heart Month and although the month has ended, it’s never the wrong time to take note of one of the Number 1 disease that kills Americans.

This year, the AHA celebrated the 18th anniversary of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women® Movement, nationally sponsored by CVS Health, with the focus of encouraging people to reclaim their rhythm, by creating easy opportunities for women to build healthy habits that work best for themselves and giving them the best chance at life.

Fortunately, heart disease can be preventable through a healthy lifestyle consisting of maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and alongside others, getting at least 150 minutes of exercise per week.

Nonetheless, prevention plans are helpful and even with a diagnosis, the hope is that it can be caught early by a doctor when a person isn’t feeling his or her normal self. It can truly make a difference.

We spoke with a survivor, Claudia Norman who has been feeling much better since her surgery two years ago. She spoke so eloquently and was very well versed on the topic. She showcased how her faith played a major role in her journey specifically with the heart diagnosis.

Bronze Magazine: “What gratitude do you hold when around the nation we have a specific time to reflect on American Heart Month?” 

Claudia Norman: “I am grateful for my life, my health, and my strength. After coming through this journey I am most grateful to the Lord.”

Claudia Norman

Ms. Norman goes on to mention that she is also grateful for the recognition that the American Heart Association brings to the talk of American Heart Month. The organization provides money for research and to find providers who can offer solutions to heart disease.

The conversation goes on to focus on the reparation of her congenital heart defect. Ms. Norman explains she was born with a term many have heard used before called a heart murmur. A heart murmur can give off a sound of whooshing or swishing as stated by Mayo Clinic.

She didn’t find out about that until the age of seven or eight. At 51, she had her open-heart surgery. It is truly inspirational that she recovered two years later and can confidently speak about her journey since that time.

Before the surgery, she was sent to an adult congenital specialist at a children’s medical center who specializes in cardiac arrhythmia to take a look at her concerns and needs to get back to the state she was at prior to being diagnosed.

The conversation shifts to women who are in the same predicament she was in having been diagnosed and recovering as well as those undiagnosed and in need of a treatment to get them to a place in which they can be in a better state.

She states that women should be an advocate for their health. Ms. Norman makes a valid point that if the provider does not give you the suggestions you need to proceed, to do more research and seek help from someone who can meet what you’re looking for so that the outcome will lead to the betterment of your health.

As a heart survivor, she reiterates that women should be an advocate for oneself, especially women of color.

Two years post-surgery, everything has been well for Ms. Norman. She was encouraged to move around by getting in a form of exercise at least 5 to six days a week, emphasizing that walking is something that she likes to do.

And alongside keeping a routine to balance health and fitness, one should focus on self-care as well.

Ms. Norman mentions that she drinks a little under a gallon of water a day, watches her sodium and eats healthy. It’s important to her to keep stress out of her life as much as she can and put her faith first because it has value in her everyday livelihood.

Her occupation ties to healthcare management, giving her access to a clinical provider community wherein her employer gives her resources to help her aid in being healthy. She mentions having a heart monitor and apps on her phone to keep track of her health and provide her with numbers she can monitor on a daily basis.

A final thought from Ms. Norman is for women to take action so that there can be a decline in heart disease and stroke. Being a part of Go Red for Women 2022, she mentions being the oldest in the group as many of the survivors are younger.

Many components of a healthy lifestyle including exercising can improve

one’s livelihood for the better and women like Ms. Norman help bring to light the reason to reflect on the beauty of a month like American Heart Month and the hope doctor’s give when they save a life through a procedure like open heart surgery.

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