Heart Truth for Women Luncheon a success

Published 2:00 am Friday, February 22, 2019

A sea of red applauded as Dr. Kathryn McFarland took the stage to discuss the importance of talking to a doctor about unexplained symptoms during the Heart Truth for Women Luncheon on Thursday.

McFarland joined the Emory at LaGrange cardiology team in October 2017, and she has more than 15 years of experience as an invasive cardiologist. She is also board-certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease. On Thursday, she spoke about the experiences that her loved ones have had with heart disease.

“Lack of awareness is killing us,” McFarland said. “Eighty percent of cardiac events can be prevented by education and lifestyle changes. Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke.”

According to McFarland, risk factors can include family history of heart disease, stints, bypass, history of heart failure, pacemakers, sudden cardiac death in first degree relatives, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, tobacco use, obesity and inactivity. She also said that many of the risk factors for diabetes and high blood pressure should be considered, due to the correlation between diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

“Know your risk factors,” McFarland said. “It will empower you to make lasting changes to promote wellness in yourself and in your family.”

One of McFarland’s former patients, Susan Avery, shared her experience with heart disease with the luncheon attendees. Avery spoke first on the trouble that doctors had diagnosing her husband’s heart disease due to atypical symptoms, then on her own experience with heart disease.

“Symptoms can vary between men and women,” Avery said. “They don’t always have the same symptoms.”

Avery said she saw no warning signs before the onset of a rapid heart rate one night after an exceptionally active day during a vacation.

“I’m young. I’m 57 years old, and I had my first experience at 54 years old,” Avery said. “That was totally unexpected.”