Jennie Garth From the Heart

Jennie Garth Shares Her Story To Educate Women and Save Lives

Jennie Garth is all too familiar with the devastating affects of heart disease. The actress, director and producer, who starred in the television show Beverly Hills 90210, is a spokesperson for Go Red For Women, a campaign created by the American Heart Association to educate women and empower them to take care of their heart health. She recently spoke with MyHealth to discuss her work and her passion to help prevent heart disease.

What was your motivation for becoming involved with the Go Red For Women campaign?

Heart disease has been a huge health issue on both sides of my family. At the age of 37, my father had his first heart attack and was diagnosed with arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). I was devastated by the thought of losing my father, who was my bi, strong hero growing up. He went from haven an active life pioneering the adult education program and training horses to worrying that too much exertion would cause another heart attack. For the next 25 years, he had multiple heart surgeries until he finally lost his battle with heart disease in 2008.

Seeing how heart disease affected my father’s life made me determined to take control of my own health. At the age of 30, I started seeing a cardiologist. That’s when I discovered that I have a leaky heart valve. It’s nothing serious right now, but it is something I need to watch. So after my father’s death, I decided I wanted to find a way to educate women about heart disease.

What’s the key message you want women to know about heart disease? Most women think heart disease is something that only an old man who smokes and has a large belly has to worry about. But the fact of the matter is that heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States.

What can women do to help prevent heart disease? About 80 percent of cardiac events in women are linked to poor choices, whether it’s smoking, a lack of exercise or an unhealthy diet. Yet too many women are unaware of the risks. Fortunately, the heart is very forgiving. Even if it’s been abused by smoking or lack of exercise, your heart can be healthy again. That’s the reason it’s important for women to recommit themselves to healthy living at the beginning of each day. If we can rally together as a family of women to fight heart disease, we can really make a difference.

What do you do to stay heart healthy? I read everything I can about healthy living. I don’t smoke. I try to avoid fried foods and stay physically active. And I encourage all of my friends and family to do the same.

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