Jessica Diede from Phoenix was selected from more than 100 applicants worldwide to join the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women 2021 class of “Real Women.”
The global volunteer organization fighting heart disease and stroke, the American Heart Association chose 22 heart disease and stroke survivors' stories as part of the Association’s Go Red for Women movement to raise awareness on cardiovascular disease, a leading killer of women, according to a press release.
Ms. Diede, 30, is raising awareness about cardiomyopathy during pregnancy and heart disease in people with no family history. She will serve as a national Go Red for Women volunteer for the American Heart Association, for a year, the release said.
“I hope by being able to share my experience with other women locally and nationally, together with the American Heart Association, we can increase awareness on these certain cardiac pathologies, decrease mortality rates, and give the hope of recovery to those currently effected by peripartum cardiomyopathy,” said Ms. Diede in a prepared statement.
She was age 27 and 20-weeks pregnant with her second child when she reportedly began experiencing shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat, noted the release, detailing how her doctor "suspected anxiety."
However, she requested a referral to a cardiologist, who diagnosed her with peripartum cardiomyopathy, the release said, adding that her heart was failing. After giving birth to her son, she began cardiac rehabilitation, slowly increasing her heart’s pumping capacity.
The initiative helps women understand cardiovascular disease as their "greatest health threat" and to take action to lower risks. Each of the “Real Women” selected for this year’s class “has a unique heart or brain health journey,” the release said.
For the first time, the class of 2021 includes two smaller groups of survivors focused on maternal health and congenital heart disease.
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for women in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association’s 2021 Heart Disease & Stroke Statistics, killing one in three women every year. Research shows heart attacks are increasing in younger women.
New data from a recent study published in Circulation suggests younger generations of women, Gen Z and Millennials, along with Black and Hispanic women, are less aware of the growing health threat and do not know warning signs of heart attacks and strokes.
Go Red for Women is nationally sponsored by CVS Health, with support from National Wear Red Day matching partner Big Lots, added the release.
Learn more at GoRedforWomen.org.