Increasingly as you hit your 50s and beyond, you hear that one of your friends who's about your age has lost their mom or dad. As sad as the news may be, the deaths are often expected.
|HEART STORY: ISU CLASSMATES
"But when the bad news is about a friend your own age, it really hits you," says 58-year old Lynne Weber, a semi-retired teacher from Princeton, a Bureau County town about 90 miles southwest of Naperville.
In August 2009, Weber's friend, 57-year old Susan Herring of Pekin, died of a heart attack while talking on the phone with her daughter. Susan had no idea she had heart disease.
Weber and Herring were part of a group of seven 1973 Illinois State University graduates who've remained friends. Weber was determined to do what she could to see that what happened to Susan would not happen to anyone else in their group.
After researching available cardiac screenings, Weber called Edward Hospital to schedule an Ultra Fast Heart Scan (UFHS). This painless 10-minute test evaluates the coronary arteries for calcium build-up, the most common cause of heart disease.
Weber then got busy persuading her ISU friends to join her in getting a heart scan in Sue Herring's memory. As a result, late last year four members of the group came to Edward for UFHS appointments, including Weber, Marilyn Bottoff of Darien, Nancy Kuglin of Frankfort and Marlene Norris of DeKalb. Kathy Pfeiffer of New Lenox, who had had a heart scan at an earlier date, came along to support the others.
At Edward, the screening includes not only the scan, but also a consultation with a cardiac nurse, a 10-year risk assessment, a lipid profile and measures of blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) and glucose level.
"Given my family history of heart disease I was relieved at my results," says Kuglin. "Still, there's nothing like looking at your numbers to make it real. I said to myself, 'Okay, Nance, you have to start exercising more and eating better.'"
Since then, Kuglin is walking four times a week with a neighbor, and she's joined a food co-op where she shops weekly for fresh fruits and vegetables.
"Planning to do the scans together stepped up our motivation," she says. "And, if one of us had received alarming news, the others would have been there to provide support. I have to pat Lynne on the back for getting the ball rolling."
"If telling our story prompts one person to get a scan and to make the changes needed to save her life it's been well worth it," says Weber.
Who should have a heart scan? According to Julie Losasso, at the time Edward's manager, cardiovascular prevention, the screening is recommended for men 40 and over, and women 45 and over, who have one or more of the following risk factors: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, diabetes or family history of heart disease. Learn more about the heart scan and what screenings are right for you by age. For more information or to make an appointment, call 1.877.45.HEART.