Tell 5 to Save Lives! Heart Your Heart!

Today's post is brought to us by Mrs. Oklahoma International 2010, Heidi Ducato. Heidi is a proud wife and stepmother to a beautiful son. She is also know as Stylish Stepmom in the blog world and @stylishstepmom on Twitter. She also has her own website for the Go Red Campaign. The 2011 Mrs. Oklahoma International Pageant will be held March 5-6, 2011 at the Cascia Hall Performing Arts Center. For more information and tickets, please visit the Mrs. Oklahoma International Pageant website.

Heidi and her Aunt Sue

 Heidi and Mrs. Hart

Happy Heart Month, everyone!! February is more than Valentine’s Day, more than acknowledging the love for your family, friends, loved ones, etc…it’s about showing love for your heart! February is dedicated to raising awareness to heart related issues and disease. It’s about educating yourself and loving your heart…this month and all year long!

I “Go Red” for myself, my family, my aunt, friends….everyone! I’m dedicated to increasing awareness, specifically, for the women in my life, that heart disease is the #1 killer in women! Approximately 1 woman will die every minute due to heart related issues/disease. That is insane and it needs to change! Education is critical in changing the viewpoint from reactive to proactive! Being heart healthy should be a lifestyle and not a doctor’s order.

Many of you know why I became involved with the American Heart Association and the Go Red for Women cause, but, if you don’t, here is a snippet from a media release of my story:

"I’m passionate about spreading the message about being Heart Healthy, as a whole, but, specifically, having people understand that the warning signs for women and heart attacks/heart disease are very different than for men.

My aunt, who also happens to be best friend, has suffered from diabetes her entire life. A complication of that is cardiovascular disease. We were together, out shopping and having a great time. She started feeling under the weather, that something was “amiss”, but we kept right on going. You know women – we can talk ourselves in or out of anything and will attribute the symptoms to a multitude of things – lack of sleep, stress, etc.

As the afternoon progressed, she continued to get worse. Long story short, she was having symptoms of a heart attack RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY EYES and I had no idea. NO IDEA! She didn’t have the tingling in the left arm and the tightness in the chest that we all grew up hearing about…she just didn’t feel good, her neck hurt, and everything felt heavy. Her purse felt heavy and I offered to carry it for her…clueless to what was happening. As the symptoms became more severe, it was evident that something was terribly wrong. We took off to the emergency room and within minutes she was heading to the cath lab, because she was having a heart attack. I sat there in disbelief. Fortunately, by the Grace of God, she is still with us today. It was a HUGE learning lesson for me in so many ways.

As I witnessed her recovery, the time it takes and the toll it takes on one’s body, physically and emotionally, I realized that I had to do something. Something had to be done so that other people didn’t have to be in the same situation. They needed to know the warning signs, so that what happened to me/us wouldn’t happen to them.

The other item that I want people to understand is that everyone is affected by a heart attack – not just the person having the heart attack. It affects everyone – family, friends, co-workers – it changes everyone’s life. Heart disease doesn’t go away, so, my aunt lives with it every day, which means we, her friends and family, also live with it every day.

My platform [in the Mrs. International pageant system] is Go Red for Women/American Heart Association. I was involved with my platform before the pageant and was volunteering at an event. I had heard about the pageant about 6 months before and had talked to Lauri [Rottmayer, pageant director] a few times since then. As I was at the event, talking with survivors, the struggles they had gone through, the information they didn’t have, the “fight” some of them had to get the medical field to listen to them that something was wrong…all of a sudden, a light bulb went off and thought I HAVE to do the pageant. Why wouldn’t I? It’s another avenue and/or resource to spread the message about Go Red for Women and the American Heart Association. I could be one voice to help these women share their story."

The International Pageant system is resource to share your story and spread your message. It’s THIS system that believes in helping you create positive change in this world. I didn’t have any previous pageant experience before this. But, my passion for my cause was worth the risk of stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something unknown. Don’t ever let fear and/or doubt keep you from trying new things that could lead you to life changing opportunities.

We have one heart…one chance…so make the right choice! Choose to be heart healthy NOW and not wait until it’s a doctor’s order. Here is something to think about: Heart disease is the #1 killer of women above ALL CANCERS COMBINED. Did you get that…all cancers combined! That is HUGE! Now, hear this…other than genetics and family history, approximately 80% of the signs/symptoms of heart disease can be prevented! Heart disease could be prevented when making the right choices in your life and choosing to be heart healthy.

Here is my request: Tell 5 to save lives! Tell 5 people/women in your life…educate them and encourage them to live heart healthy lifestyles. Then, ask them to tell 5, and ask those 5 to tell 5, and so on… It really can be that simple to save lives!


Heidi Ducato
Mrs. Oklahoma International 2010

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