At 16, Jana was a typical teenager and had no idea that her life was about to change forever. After a spaghetti supper one night, her Mom complained of indigestion. Jana fetched the tums per her Mom’s request. When that didn’t provide relief, her Mom’s next request was for Jana to call her Dad at work. Later that same evening, Jana’s Mom died of a heart attack at only 34 years old.
Fast forward to Jana at age 23. She completed a health assessment at work and learned that she had abnormally high cholesterol for someone her age. Her doctor prescribed medication to lower her levels and referred her to a cardiologist.
When Jana visited the cardiologist, they took a family history. It soon became apparent that there was a tragic trend that seemed to affect the women in her family. Not only did her Mom pass away at age 34, Jana’s maternal grandmother died at 31 from a heart attack and her maternal aunt underwent quadruple bypass at age 33. Her doctor also discovered that Jana has very small arteries. The deadly combination of high cholesterol and smaller than average arteries led her cardiologist to send her results and medical history to the Mayo Clinic for further evaluation. They confirmed that she is on the correct treatment path and that Jana is lucky to have discovered this condition earlier than her female ancestors.
Today, Jana is a Mom, wife, successful professional and active volunteer for the American Heart Association. She knows that early detection was key in her medical outcome. Everyday Jana takes her medication and attempts to make heart-healthy choices. Diet, exercise and not smoking (her Mom and Grandma were both smokers) are just part of her daily routine. Jana is a tireless advocate for women and for knowing your family history. She knows more than the average person just how critical this can be.
“Don’t wait” is a message she shares regularly. This is especially poignant when she reflects back to when she was just 16. Her Mom died on a Monday evening and was scheduled to see her doctor on Friday. This is something that Jana remembers as she has lived longer than either her Mom or Grandma and is very thankful to be able to spend time with her young son and husband. She plans to “not wait” and always be aware of her health condition as she looks forward to a long, happy and healthy life.