A HEART STORY by Guest Writer Erica Annise, Heart & Wellness Advocate

erica annise headshot 2013-1

Erica Annise

Heart & Wellness Advocate




Have you ever felt numbness in your left arm? Have you ever had a pain in your chest that was so impactful that you knew something was wrong, but was so afraid that you did nothing?  Heart Disease is the #1 Killer of all women in America. Why? Because as women, we are under so much stress in our lives to be the Perfect wife, Perfect mother, Perfect girlfriend…co-worker, boss, church lady, EVERYTHING for everyone that the person we neglect most is ourselves. As a woman we have been taught to overlook the feelings of being tired and to push forward as if we are invincible but we are not. Stress kills and we, as women, need to stop, listen to our bodies and take a stand in the fight against heart disease.

I ignored the signs and I will forever pay a heavy price. As a model/actress my life can be very hectic so feeling tired and stressed sometimes can be a part of my life so I overlooked a lot despite having heart disease present in my family history. My paternal grandmother passed at age 59 from a single heart attack. My paternal grandfather had two heart attacks and died at age 69 after having the third 69. The love of my first 32 years of life and still today, my father, passed at age 60 after having his own journey with heart disease.  The point is I should have known that I would be affected by something so silent but ever working on its victims. I think somewhere in my mind I made myself believe it couldn’t be me because I had been a modern dancer, worked out, and ate right.  I didn’t even have anything to worry about.  I was wrong.

My biggest regret is that I could have prevented the last nine years of hospital stays, testing, medication, needles and x-rays. After my father passed, I went to the doctor because I was so heart-broken I thought I needed some special medication to help me move forward in life. The doctor said your blood pressure is 210/120.  It took 3 years before I fully understood the danger. It was March 31, 2006 and all the warning signs were there. I felt weary and exhausted for several days.  I was so tired and that I couldn’t summon the strength to get on a flight even though I was at the gate. My husband didn’t know what was wrong, but could see the exhaustion in my eyes and was so concerned that he asked me to delay my trip so I stayed.  After three days, I felt okay and figured the extra rest had cured me enough that I could have a night out with my husband and friends.  It turned out to be quite a night.  We hadn’t been at the bar very long before I felt nauseous, heard ringing in my ear, started sweating, and my vision becoming blurry.  All I remember saying was, “I don’t feel so good.” When I woke up, I was in Cardiac Intensive Care at Northwestern Hospital and the day was April 1st. It was April Fool’s Day, but this was no joke. I have a complicated issue with my blood pressure which in turns puts stress on my heart, which in turn puts me at a highrisk for heart attacks and strokes.

So that’s my story, but what’s yours? Know your history. I knew mine but didn’t think it really had an impact on my life. Check your numbers. I do now. Don’t ignore the signs. Above all, know your body and listen.  Make a difference in your own life not excuses. February 1st is National GoRed Day across the world and February is also the month to show solidarity in supporting a friend, a mother, a sister, a daughter who has and who hasn’t had a fight with heart disease. We can fight together and win!

Heart 1_gotstress

Heart 2_excuses

Erica and I worked together in Dallas and became friends 15+ years ago.  What a gorgeous woman inside and out!  I would like to thank her for sharing her story and dedicating her life to raising awareness to save women’s lives.   Let’s join Erica in spreading the word and by doing our part to “make a difference in our own life” and listening to our bodies.

Make sure to rock your most fabulous + fierce red dress or top on Friday, Feb 1st and upload a photo to the SOS Facebook page!

Tweet about it @GoRedforWomen + @EricaAnnise with hashtag #gored and make sure to share this post with your friends.

Get involved. Save lives.

Love, Tiff


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