2022 Real Women survivor class use music to inspire others to take charge of their health

American Heart Association

DALLAS, February 1, 2022

— To inspire women to take charge of their health during February – American Heart Month – the American Heart Association today announced 12 heart disease and stroke survivors who are sharing how they reclaimed their rhythm as part of the Association’s Go Red for Women® movement.

Cardiovascular disease remains a woman’s greatest health threat, according to the American Heart Association’s newly released 2022 Heart Disease & Stroke Statistical Update. Every year, the Association, the leading global volunteer organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke for all, chooses a group of female ambassadors, affectionally called the “Real Women“, to help people to personally identify with the cause.

This year in particular these women are inspiring the world with their personal stories of how they took back control of their health after life-threatening cardiovascular disease. The women are encouraging everyone to reclaim their rhythm with a custom music playlist on the streaming platform Pandora. Listeners can hear a selection of songs chosen by the Real Women and learn why these tunes are important and inspiring to them.

The women, who come from all walks of life, serve as year-long national volunteer ambassadors for the American Heart Association and for the movement. Each of the Real Women selected for this year’s class has a unique heart or brain health journey.

The 2022 Real Women are:

  • Amy Cavaliere, 40, Philadelphia, had a sudden cardiac arrest in the ambulance after having a heart attack at home. The EMT performed CPR for 45 mins and she now trains others in CPR.
  • Andrea Engfer, 35, Orting, Washington, had just given birth to her daughter when she had a stroke. She missed her first Mother’s Day as she was in the hospital recovering.
  • Claudia Norman, 53, Hartford, Connecticut, was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect (CHD) at the age of 51. She underwent open heart surgery in a pediatric hospital.
  • Dianne Ruiz, 34, Burbank, California, was born with pulmonary stenosis, a congenital heart defect (CHD). After losing her job from the pandemic, and seeing how that had put stress on her body, she made a conscious effort to get her health back in check to make sure she leads a long and thriving life.
  • Erica Annise, 50, Dallas, lived with heart disease for a decade before she admitted to herself, she was indeed a survivor. A subsequent stroke prompted her to learn more about her family history and she is now a fierce advocate for heart health in the Black community.
  • Jayme Kelly, 31, Boston, woke up one morning and couldn’t walk – she had a stroke while sleeping. Through extensive therapy, she is well on the road to physical and mental recovery.
  • Jenylyn Carpio, 38, Temecula, California, had a sudden cardiac arrest two weeks after giving birth. Her mother performed hands-only CPR until help arrived and she got to a hospital for treatment.
  • Megan Hilt, 28, Birmingham, Alabama, experienced heart failure at 18. On her 19th birthday she had a heart transplant. Nearly a decade later, life is as ‘normal’ as life can be.
  • Shemeka Campbell, 34, Milwaukee, was diagnosed with Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT), a heart rhythm disorder almost 10 years ago. After losing her sister to heart related complications, she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure requiring an implantable cardioverter defibrillator in 2018, which has already saved her life.
  • Tricia Marciel, 49, Honolulu, was treated for myocarditis and recovered. Nine months later, she was about to perform on stage as a singer when the symptoms returned – she was having a heart attack.
  • Wakisha (Kisha) Stewart, 41, Cape Coral, Florida, was out for the first time with her husband two weeks after having her second child. Not feeling well, she went to the hospital. Initially told she was having a panic attack, a tear in her artery had actually caused a ‘widow maker’ heart attack.
  • Zuleyma Santos, 37, Los Angeles, had peripartum cardiomyopathy, or postpartum heart failure, shortly after giving birth. In need of a heart transplant, she now lives with a battery pack that keeps her heart pumping until a donor heart is available.

Go Red for Women, nationally sponsored by CVS Health, is the American Heart Association’s signature women’s initiative to reduce heart disease and stroke in women. Through the Go Red for Women, the American Heart Association is working in communities around the world to help decrease the incidences of cardiovascular disease in women.

Learn more about Go Red for Women the 2022 Real Women at goredforwomen.org/realwomen.

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