Saint Luke’s Muriel I. Kauffman Women’s Heart Center
By Alexis Rewalt
Miss Kansas United States 2013
Just because you’re not having a heart attack doesn’t mean that it won’t affect your life. We all have a relative, friend, mentor or other person near to us who has been touched by heart disease.
I’m Alexis Rewalt and in my family there are several people who have had or have passed away from heart disease. One comes to mind, however, because of her unique circumstances.
Edie Marie Battaglia has been a part of my family for as long as I can remember. Edie Marie’s experience and how she shares her story to encourage other women that they are not alone in their fight against heart disease inspired me to join in her efforts to educate, advocate and support the community on the issue of women and heart disease. Here’s her story:
Heart to Heart
This Northland heart patient has a mission: Save lives, one woman at a time.
It had been a rough week for Edie Marie Battaglia. Her mother had passed away after a long illness, and the 51-year-old Northland woman was preparing to get back to her management position with AT&T.
As she read through email and planned her work week, she noticed a twinge below her left breast. She assumed it was her underwire and adjusted her bra. When that didn’t help, she changed out of her form-fitting blouse. Still, no relief. Guessing it might be indigestion, Edie Marie took antacids and drank water. When that didn’t help, she tried lying on the floor to stretch. The twinge persisted.
“At this point, I’m getting a little nervous,” recalled Edie Marie. She sought out her neighbor, who was a nurse. She gave Edie Marie an aspirin, a standard precaution for chest pain. Aspirin reduces clotting, which can help blood flow better through a narrowed artery. “As I talked to her, I got this sensation in my left jaw,” recalled Edie Marie. “My little brother died of a heart attack at 42, and my parents died from heart disease. I knew the signs.”
Edie Marie’s husband took her to Saint Luke’s North Hospital. An EKG showed it was a heart attack—and Edie Marie was still having it.
Heart of the Matter
Interventional cardiologist, Jason Lindsey, M.D., diagnosed spontaneous coronary artery dissection, or SCAD. This rare condition occurs when an inner layer of an artery splits, causing blood to seep between the layers and create a blockage. While the cause of SCAD is unknown, it typically affects more women than men, particularly those middle-aged. Doctors can treat SCAD using stents, but two out of three blockages naturally resolve themselves. Dr. Lindsey chose to give Edie Marie a blood thinning medication to help
break up the blockage.
“It can be tricky, because you can do more harm than good if you don’t know the precise location of the blockage,” said Dr. Lindsey. “A misplaced stent can close an artery permanently.” After six days at Saint Luke’s North, Edie Marie returned home.
Opening Doors and Minds
After three months of cardiac rehab, Edie Marie was on a mission. Although she’d exercised regularly and ate healthy, she stepped up her efforts. Under guidance from her cardiologist, Michelle Dew, M.D., and a nutritionist, Edie Marie cut out all processed foods and embraced a slower-paced lifestyle.
“Before, I’d be up at 3 a.m. working. Now I get plenty of sleep,” she said. “I’d been a caretaker for mom for so many months that I neglected myself. I understand now you can’t be superwoman all the time.”
She shares this message with other women through the Pathway to Purpose Program at the Muriel I. Kauffman Women’s Heart Center.
The Pathway to Purpose motto is “educating one woman at a time.” Once a month, Edie Marie makes rounds with a nurse from the Women’s Heart Center at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. She visits women newly diagnosed with heart disease, shares her story, and encourages them to share theirs so they know they’re not alone in their fight against heart disease.
She offers support and gives each patient a bag filled with educational resources and a signature red scarf. The red scarf has become a national symbol of women’s fight against heart disease.
“I can help other women and let them know their lives aren’t over,” said Edie Marie. “Living with heart disease doesn’t mean your journey ends at the stop sign. It means you adjust and keep moving forward.”
Mind Your Handbags & Hearts
The national campaign encourages women to carry lifesaving aspirin.
Nothing fires up cardiologist, Tracy Stevens, M.D., more than women’s heart health. More than 250,000 women die each year from heart attacks—and many could’ve been prevented had women simply paid attention and acted when symptoms occurred.
“Women are natural caretakers and put others before themselves,” said Dr. Stevens, medical director of the Muriel I. Kauffman Women’s Heart Center.” Too many won’t call 911 when symptoms occur. We need women to understand this is their No. 1 health risk.”
Recognize Heart Attack Symptoms
Dr. Stevens serves on the Scientific Advisory Council for WomenHeart, the national organization in collaboration with Bayer Aspirin behind Handbags & Hearts. This national campaign urges women to recognize heart attack symptoms and carry aspirin in their purses.
“Taking aspirin during a heart attack can reduce your risk of death and significantly reduce damage to your heart,” said Dr. Stevens. So far, more than 77,500 women have committed to take an aspirin and call 911 if they experience:
• Chest pressure, tightness, or heaviness
• Pain in the shoulders, neck, jaw,* or arms*
• Lightheadedness or faintness
• Shortness of breath with or without chest pain*
• Extreme fatigue*
* More common in women
Take One Aspirin…
Experiencing heart attack symptoms?
Chew two low-dose,
81-milligram aspirins or one 325-milligram aspirin.
Join Us for the 1st Annual Queen of Hearts 5K Walk/Run September 27th
We look forward to seeing you at our First Annual Queen of Hearts 5K Walk/Run to benefit Saint Luke’s Muriel I. Kauffman Women’s Heart Center. Please join us in honoring Edie Marie Battaglia and all women at risk for heart disease. To learn more or to register, go to www.queenofheartswalkkc.com.
TRACY L. STEVENS, M.D. is a Board Certified Cardiologist with Saint Luke’s Cardiovascular Consultants and is on staff at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. She is the Julia Irene Kauffman Endowed Chair for Women’s Cardiovascular Health, Ben D. McCallister MD Community Ambassador, and Professor of Medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Dr. Stevens received her M.D. degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, and her Bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She is the recipient of the UMKC Take Wing Award and the Alumni Spotlight Award. She completed her Cardiology Fellowship at Mayo Clinic, where she was also the National Institutes of Health Cardiovascular Research Fellow. Dr. Stevens was awarded the Mayo Clinic Outstanding Achievement Award in Cardiovascular Disease, as well as the Mayo Clinic Alumni Association Donald C. Balfour Award for Meritorious Research.
Involvement in professional activities includes prior Presidency of the American Heart Association, Greater Kansas City Division, and Councilor of the Missouri Chapter of the American College of Cardiology. She has served as Medical Director of Cardiac Transplantation and on the National Cardiac Transplant Research Database Executive Committee.
Dr. Stevens is the Medical Director of the Saint Luke’s Muriel I. Kauffman Women’s Heart Center, recognized as the first women’s heart center of its kind in the United States and recipient of the Inaugural Woman’s Day Red Dress Award. In collaboration with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, she facilitated the visit of former First Lady, Mrs. Laura Bush, to Kansas City to promote the efforts of the Heart Truth Campaign. Dr. Stevens has been recognized as a pioneer in promoting women’s cardiovascular health at two White House events, including the proclamation signing by President George W. and Mrs. Laura Bush in support of the Heart Truth Campaign. Dr. Stevens is the recipient of the WomenHeart Wenger Award for her contributions to women’s heart health. She serves on the Heart Health Advisory Board for Woman’s Day, Scientific Advisory Council for WomenHeart and is a National Spokesperson for the American Heart Association.