February is 'Heart Health Awareness Month' and the number of women living with heart disease is 8 million.
Heart disease can be a largely preventable disease, as long as you take care of your health. Heart disease is a silent killer and it’s the No. 1 cause of death for men and women.
Dawn McCutcheon knows about heart disease firsthand. She lost her father to a heart attack when he was 52, so making change in her own life is really a matter of life or death. And that call came through loud and clear in 2009 when McCutcheon, a working mother of two, suffered a heart attack. She was 38 years old.
“My heart stopped for about a minute,” she said. “I was flat-lined and unresponsive.”
McCutcheon said she wants to lose weight and get in shape, but she’s dropped the ball when it comes to her health.
“I have not stepped foot in this gym in over six months,” she said.
After walking out of Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, McCutcheon left with a pacemaker and a new prescription to get her health on track. But more than two years later, she admits she hasn't made her health a priority.
There were plenty of excuses as to why she couldn't get to the gym, but as a volunteer and spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, she realized she couldn't tell other women to get in shape if she wasn't doing it herself.
“I am a 41-year-old woman who suffers from heart disease and I need to get fit,” she said. “Today is my Day One.”
It’s also the first day that McCutcheon is stepping on a scale.
“I didn't even weigh this much when I was nine months pregnant,” she said.
McCutcheon now weighs in at a scary, and unhealthy, 218 pounds with a body mass index of 33. Her trainer said she needs to lose 60 pounds and bring her BMI into the low 20s.
The approach? Her trainer said they will teach McCutcheon how to correctly work out so that she will get faster results and, hopefully, continue with her program.
“I'm exhausted and I'm pretty shocked at how out of shape that I am,” McCutcheon said.
She will spend three days a week in the gym, an hour each time, and work out with a mix of cardiovascular and resistance training.
It’s also time for some accountability. An attainable and healthy weight loss would be about a pound to a pound and a half a week.
“That was so much harder than I expected it to be,” she said. “Six months ago I was doing those types of exercises and I'm just upset with myself that I've let it go this far.”
McCutcheon’s heart attack could have killed her, and for thousands of women it does. But she now has a second chance to be a mom and an advocate for heart health.
“This is very real – today, this hour, this moment,” she said. “Maybe we'll have one less statistic in the next five years.”