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Heart Disease in Spotlight in Minnesota

Women in Minnesota and across the country are encouraged to know the signs of heart disease. (American Heart Assn.)
Women in Minnesota and across the country are encouraged to know the signs of heart disease. (American Heart Assn.)
January 30, 2017

DULUTH, Minn. – At the age of 54, Kristin Ryan of Duluth learned firsthand what health officials have been saying for years – heart disease isn't a man's disease.

Ryan, a nurse practitioner, suffered cardiac arrest at the end of a 5K race she was running with her family in Florida on Thanksgiving in 2013.

She was lucky that the two runners behind her were nurses and, because it was an established event, there was an ambulance at the finish line with a defibrillator on board, and a hospital just a few blocks away.

Ryan says like many women, she thought it was something that would never happen to her.

"We don't take seriously enough the risk, we kind of toy around with it, like it's something that may or may not happen 20 years from now, instead of feeling like this is something that may happen today, or tomorrow," she states.

This Friday is the American Heart Association's National Wear Red Day, when people are asked to wear red as a reminder to be heart healthy.

Nearly a quarter of all female deaths in Minnesota are from heart disease and stroke, with nearly 13 every day.

Ryan says people should know their own personal risk, even if they believe they're in good shape.

"The month before that, I had been biking on a country road near our summer place, and I could have collapsed out there,” she relates. “I was hiking 11 miles on the Lake Superior Hiking Trail – could have collapsed out there and my outcome could have been very different. I would have died."

More information about the signs and symptoms of heart disease and stroke is online at

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MN