DR. BRUCE MacLEOD: Having a heart attack is a big wakeup call for most people. There's usually no problem convincing a heart attack survivor to change his or her lifestyle--to quit smoking, control their high blood pressure and cholesterol, control their weight and get regular physical activity.
BOB WELTNER: My heart stopped and in theory, I guess I was dead. But through the miracles of medical science, they managed to revive me and bring me back to life.
DR. BRUCE MacLEOD: Of course, it's better to take these steps now. They can prevent a heart attack from happening.
BOB WELTNER: The type of exercise that I do now is I have a stationary bike that I ride for approximately 15 minutes. I have a course here in the community which is approximately 2-1/2 to 3 miles which I try to walk three or four times a week. And I just enjoy life.
JOAN HAMILTON: And when we got to the emergency room, the doctor said I had a heart attack. And I'm going, "No, the chances of that are, like, slim and none. She just had one. What are the chances of our both having it?" I thought that heart attack was for old men. I knew I was too young to have a heart attack.
DR. BRUCE MacLEOD: The truth is that heart disease is the number one cause of death among women. And the risk of having a heart attack increases with age, especially after menopause. So it's essential that women become more aware of their heart health.
JOAN HAMILTON: When we go to parties, we don't go in with the dips and the fat--we take vegetables and fruit. [ chuckles ] That's what we eat. Instead of using ground beef, now we use ground turkey. Instead of fried chicken--though I miss it, but I use baked or broiled now. So-- and we're discovering spices, squash-- which I've never had squash, but I'm eating spaghetti squash. [ laughter ] We are members of the Johns Hopkins Family Heart Program. When we go to our exercise class each week, they take our blood pressure and our weight. It's fun because now due to our experience, our sisters and brothers are now in the same class with us. We go to exercise together as a family. We do a lot of things together. And we're getting healthier.
DR. BRUCE MacLEOD: Like so many people who experience heart attack symptoms, you might not be sure that you're having a heart attack, but you'll know something isn't right. And when that happens, the best policy-- and I can't stress this enough-- is when in doubt, check it out. Being prepared for a heart attack is the smart thing to do. Come up with an action plan in advance. Learn the heart attack warning signs. Talk to your family and friends about the importance of acting fast and calling 9-1-1 right away. And, finally, talk to your doctor about your heart attack risk and how to lower it.