Throughout the year, Suttle-Straus employees participate in various events that support local and national charities. Some of these events are company-sponsored, while others are supported by individual employee contributions. Company-sponsored events are often organized by our Wellness Committee and have included American Red Cross Blood Drives, food drives for Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, and various run/walks.
This month, Suttle-Straus will be hosting several internal events to help raise awareness and funds for the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign -- a campaign designed specifically to bring awareness to how cardiovascular disease affects women. Each Friday will feature a different activity, including Wear Red Day, a lunch and learn, and a healthy potluck, in addition to several walks throughout the month. Red Dress pins will also be available for a small donation to help raise funds for the cause.
This remainder of this blog article departs from our traditional news and industry-related content to help share potentially life-saving information about heart disease.
The following statistics are from the American Heart Association:
- Heart disease is the number one killer of women and kills more women than all forms of cancer combined.
- An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease.
- Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
The organization also points out that symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and men, and are often misunderstood. For example, in addition to the common symptoms like chest discomfort and shortness of breath, the American Heart Association says that women may experience:
- Back and neck pain
- Indigestion and heartburn
- Nausea and vomiting
- Light-headedness or sudden dizziness
- Problems breathing
- Extreme fatigue
In some cases, these may even be the only symptoms, which is why many women may brush off the symptoms as the flu or stress. Tragically, such was the case with the wife of one of our employees. Mike Sheppard, Team Leader in our Imaging and Mailing Center shares his personal story:
I remember many things about the night I found my wife on the couch not breathing. The call to 911, doing CPR, sirens in the distance, the police officer pulling me away as other officers took over CPR, the emptiness I felt as I watched a paramedic turn to his partner and say that there’s nothing more they could do.
She was nauseated the night before and had a very restless night. It wasn’t the first time one of us had a “bug” so neither of us thought too much about it. When I got up the next day she was already awake and on the couch covered up in a blanket, I could tell she still didn’t feel good but when I asked if she needed me to get her anything she replied, “No, I just don’t feel good. I’ll be fine”.
We had a couple of hours together that morning before I needed to leave for work. Before I left, I asked if she wanted me to call the doctor; maybe take her to Urgent Care and she said, “No, I’ll be fine. I just feel like I’m getting the flu.”
It seems so obvious in hindsight but at the time we had no idea that everything happening was a warning.
Editor's note: This blog article was inspired by Mike’s story and his passion for spreading the news about heart disease in women. For more information, including learning about risk factors, we encourage you to visit the American Heart Association or the Go Red for Women websites.