Seven years ago, Trisha Shumate and her family got a surprise none of them were expecting. Her father suffered sudden cardiac arrest – his heart stopped beating. By the grace of God, he was part of the 10 percent of people who survive such events.
That experience was the first of several unexpected heart events in Trisha’s family that also included the loss of her brother-in-law to a sudden heart attack in October 2021. Those events motivated Shumate to join the American Heart Association (AHA) this year as a “Woman of Impact.”
“My family, like many others, didn’t know we were affected by heart disease until it was too late,” Shumate says. “I want to raise awareness that it’s important to get your heart checked. You may have zero symptoms but could lose your life too soon by not getting checked out.”
While heart attacks normally have recognizable symptoms such as chest pain, nausea, shortness of breath and profuse sweating, the risk factors that lead to heart attacks, strokes and other forms of heart disease typically don’t have symptoms.
High blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart attacks and strokes, is known as the silent killer specifically because it has no symptoms.
According to the AHA, blood pressure that is consistently 130/90 or higher doubles the risk of a heart attack over someone whose blood pressure is 120/80 or lower.
For Shumate, she has had high cholesterol for the past several years, another risk factor of heart disease that doesn’t present with symptoms. Too much cholesterol in the body can lead to thick, hard deposits in the arteries, which can eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke.
“My brother-in-law went to work one day and never came home,” Shumate says. “I don’t want that to happen to anyone else. Take time to talk to your doctor about your heart health, including the things that don’t give you any warning in advance.”
Shumate and the four other Women of Impact are participating in a nine-week campaign to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke. The Recorder is profiling each of them. More information can be found at www.heart.org/indygoesred.
Rupal Thanawala is managing director at Trident Systems, a leading business and technology consulting practice, and tech editor for Indianapolis Recorder. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.