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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Childhood Friend’s Death Inspires Woman To Advocate For Heart Health

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It’s been more than 40 years since Holli Harrington’s childhood friend passed away from a congenital heart defect, but that lingering loss is one of the reasons that Harrington chose to become one of the American Heart Association’s five “Woman of Impact” nominees this year.

“Alisa was missing a chamber in her heart and only lived to be 12, but she never let her condition define her,” Harrington says. “I often wonder what my life would be like if she were still here, but then I remember that she is here in spirit and forever in my heart. She motivates me to live my life to the fullest and has influenced my outlook that even in difficult conditions life is a blessing.”

Blessing others is what Harrington, and the four other nominees hope to do as part of the “Woman of Impact” program, now in its second year. Each have pledged to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke and to raise money to fund research and education.

“In addition to losing my best friend at a young age, I’ve watched family members manage through heart conditions, and I’ve seen firsthand that being informed saves lives,” Harrington says.

In fact, while nearly one of every three deaths is related to heart disease, the American Heart Association says that most heart disease can be prevented by the lifestyle choices we make.

The AHA’s seven keys to ideal heart health are moving more, eating better, managing high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and weight, and not smoking.

“We need to be conscious and intentional to stay healthy,” says Harrington, who felt that promoting women’s health through the Go Red for Women campaign would be an impactful act of service to celebrate her 30th year as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, which has physical and mental health as key focus areas. “People are not as active as they have been historically. This can be attributed to convenience and technology, and COVID has played a role in increased inactivity, too. I’m concerned how this is affecting our heart health now and how it will impact future generations. We need to be conscious of ‘idle time’ and find ways to move more even if it’s just walking or pacing while on the phone.”

Harrington knows she needs to practice what she preaches.

“I’m on a personal journey to improve my own health, and the Woman of Impact program provides me the opportunity to encourage and inform others, especially those I love.”

To learn more about “Woman of Impact” and heart health, you can visit www.heart.org/indygoesred. The Recorder will be profiling all five “Woman of Impact” nominees during the coming weeks.

Rupal Thanawala is managing director at Trident Systems, a leading business and technology consulting practice, and tech editor for Indianapolis Recorder. Contact her at rupalt@indyrecorder.com. 

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