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NC survivor empowers young women to protect their heart health

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Wednesday, February 21, 2024   

February is American Heart Month and according to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women. Approximately 45% of women are living with some form of cardiovascular disease.

Stephanie Bowden, a heart disease survivor from North Carolina, understands the challenges of living with a heart disorder. Diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy at the age of 11, Bowden underwent open-heart surgery at 14 and now relies on a pacemaker. She comes from a family with a history of heart disease, including her grandfather, mother and sister.

At 27 years old, Bowden aims to honor her mother by empowering young women to take control of their heart health and safeguard their own lives.

"Me, my mom and my sister were the one in three, because one in three women will die of heart disease, and we did lose my mom," Bowden explained. "A lot of times, women aren't even aware of this, and it just shows the magnitude of heart disease. Heart disease takes more women than all forms of cancer combined."

Bowden has been recognized in the American Heart Association's 2024 Class of Real Women Survivors. Through her story, Stephanie hopes to raise awareness heart disease affects young women too. She believes it is essential for women to focus on heart health now, rather than waiting until later in life, by gaining knowledge, consulting with doctors, understanding their risks and adopting heart-healthy practices.

To stay resilient in the face of heart disease, Bowden recommended maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, and relying on a strong support system. She noted learning about herself and making informed choices plays a crucial role in preserving good health.

"I hope that my story impacts, especially women and young women at that, to not be ashamed or afraid to get the help they need whenever something doesn't feel right," Bowden emphasized. "A lot of times in women, the warning signs of cardiac events are a lot different than men. That's why we really have to listen to our body and take care of ourselves."

She outlined some of the symptoms, such as back pain, nausea, and shortness of breath, can easily be dismissed or mistaken for stress, rather than the chest pain and discomfort men may experience.


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