Feb 7, 2011 3:03 PM by Carina Corral

Local woman talks about emotional toll brought on by heart disease

When someone is diagnosed with heart disease, you do not often think of the emotional toll that can come along with it.

A local woman knows the feeling all too well.

Donna Henderson-McBean was the guest speaker at the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Luncheon on Friday at the San Luis Obispo Country Club, where she talked about her experience with heart disease and explained how she learned to accept her pacemaker.

"I was a person who always took good care of myself. I watched what I ate, I belonged to as many as three gyms at one time," said Henderson-McBean.

Despite her efforts, in 2007, at the age of 55, she was diagnosed with Bradycardia, a condition in which the heart slows down to less than 60 beats per minute. The average heart beats anywhere between 60-120 beats per minute. For some Bradycardia is normal, but for others it can be fatal.

Henderson-McBean required emergency surgery and now has a pacemaker, which she has fondly named, Victoria. "For me it was accepting and embracing my pacemaker. I went through so much shock over it and I realized I was feeling a lot of rejection," she said.

Heart disease is the number one killer in women. As part of American Heart Month, on Friday it was also a time to honor the nearly half a million women lost every year to heart disease.

"I can't help but think of those we've lost to this disease, mothers, some of us, sisters, daughters," said Congresswoman Lois Capps who represents California's 23rd District.

She was also invited to speak at the event and said she has worked tirelessly on Capitol Hill to bring more awareness and research to the fight against heart disease.

There are still ways to get involved in the Go Red movement. From Going Red by going social to monitoring your own heart disease risk on-line, click here to learn more.


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