Rise Above Heart Failure: Queen Latifah's Story

Queen and Rita heartie photoAward-winning actress, singer, songwriter and producer Queen Latifah attributes much of her success in life to her mother, Rita Owens. “My mom has always been my rock. She’s stronger than anyone I’ve ever known,” she says. When Ms. Owens was diagnosed with heart failure 10 years ago, Queen describes the experience as life-changing – “Hearing the word ‘failure’ associated with my mom’s health was really scary.”

Ms. Owens refused to let the diagnosis bring her down, and remained hopeful and positive. She rallied Queen and her entire family to learn all they could about heart failure and how to manage the condition. In support of Ms. Owens, the whole family made small changes in their lives to be healthier, including changes to their diet. Queen and other members of the family also join Ms. Owens on check-ups to participate in discussions with her doctors and to help keep a close watch on her health.

Inspired by Ms. Owens, Queen says that keeping a positive attitude and always being supportive are key to helping a loved one manage heart failure. She also wants to stress that for caregivers, it’s important to care for your own health as well.

Queen says, “You can’t change the past, but you can change the future.” She wants everyone to be inspired by her mother, and to know that heart failure is something that people can “rise above” with education, support and by making small healthy changes in their life.

RAHF logoShe and her mother have joined the American Heart Association’s Rise Above Heart Failure movement to spread the word about heart failure and to help others understand the signs and symptoms of the condition, and how to manage it. Rise Above Heart Failure is nationally supported by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and was created in collaboration with experts across the heart failure community. The American Heart Association plans to partner across the community to change the way heart failure impacts the country by:

  • Increasing awareness of heart failure, its symptoms and treatments,
  • Increasing understanding and dialogue about heart failure,
  • Inspiring people with heart failure to take a more active role in their care,
  • Encouraging people to make small changes that can lead to healthier lifestyles and
  • Bringing together an alliance of influential organizations to collectively support a goal of reducing heart failure hospitalization rates by 10% and increasing awareness and understanding of HF by 10% by 2020.

Read Queen Latifah's Top 10 Caregiving Tips (PDF).

Read more inspiring stories.

Heart Insight QL mag cover

Big Heart Problem In the first of a four-part series on heart failure, we investigate what it is, what causes it and what’s the prognosis.

The Unrelaxing Heart The second installment explains heart failure with muscle intact. Queen Latifah and her mom, Rita, share their personal experience with Rita’s own heart failure diagnosis.

The Ins and Outs of Hospitalization Heart failure patients are often hospitalized. This article looks at managing self-care to minimize just how often re-hospitalizations happen.

Shared Decision Making for Advanced HF When HF progresses to an advanced stage, there are many decisions to be made. Here we delve into the importance of shared decision making.