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MO Survivor: "Heart Disease Does Not Discriminate"

PHOTO: Karen Englert was diagnosed with a rare heart disorder in her 20s, and has become a champion for heart-disease awareness, helping to spread the message that heart disease does not discriminate. Photo courtesy of Karen Englert.
PHOTO: Karen Englert was diagnosed with a rare heart disorder in her 20s, and has become a champion for heart-disease awareness, helping to spread the message that heart disease does not discriminate. Photo courtesy of Karen Englert.
February 6, 2015

ST. LOUIS - Nearly every minute of every day, a woman dies of heart disease, which affects 43 million women nationwide. That's why one Missouri survivor is speaking up to help others avoid becoming part of that statistic.

Karen Englert was an active, vibrant 24-year-old who went to see her doctor about what she thought was a sinus infection, and instead discovered she had a potentially fatal heart rhythm disorder.

"My father, my grandfather and uncle all had experienced heart attacks and things like that," she said. "So definitely very aware of heart disease - but, in my mind, heart disease was a man's disease, and it was an older man's disease."

Over the past decade, Englert has been through multiple procedures, including two open-heart surgeries, and is dependent on a pacemaker. However, she said, she is able to live a healthy and full life. Today, she will join with women across the nation in wearing red as a symbol of the fight against heart disease.

Englert said she wants other Missouri women to know that if heart disease could happen to her, at such a young age, it really can happen to anyone.

"We all carry these risk factors, one or more of them, so we are at risk," she said, "but we can do a whole lot to minimize those risks and so that we don't end up with something significant because of them."

According to the American Heart Association, women can take steps to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise. The association also recommends that women have their blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly, and be aware of any family history of heart disease.

More information on heart disease in women is online at heart.org.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO