Paula's Journey

Organization: Service: Story Topics:
Women's Heart Disease

When Paula was 23 her mom passed away from cardiac arrest. Her dad passed away from a stroke. Her family has a history of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, high cholesterol and diabetes. But why should Paula worry about heart problems?

After Paula's mom suffered a massive heart attack, she urged Paula to go get her heart checked. While she was in the waiting room, she saw a brochure for the MemorialCare Center for Women's Cardiac Health and Research at Long Beach Memorial. Paula decided to take her mom's advice and went to the Center for testing.

Paula went to the MemorialCare Center for Women's Cardiac Health and Research to receive the comprehensive cardiac risk screening. The screening includes complete medical and family history evaluation, a physical exam, a comprehensive health assessment, cholesterol and blood sugar testing and measuring of blood pressure, body mass index and body fat analysis. Also, the screening includes a 12-Lead Electrocardiogram, which provides enhanced images of the heart. Once the screening was done, Paula met with Cindy Peters, RN, MSN, ACNP, who is a nurse practitioner at the Center to go over the results.

Paula walked with the MemorialCare Center for Women's Cardiac Health & Research team at the American Heart Association 2011 Orange County Heart Walk in Irvine on Sunday, Sept. 18.The results showed that Paula had high blood pressure. She was only 23 years old. Paula's family history and risk factors played an important role in this diagnosis. When Paula came to the Center, she weighed 360 pounds. Cindy decided that the first thing they needed to take care of was Paula's weight.

"Paula had so many risk factors for heart disease and after the screening results, we realized that we needed to take action," says Cindy. "As an entire care team, we realized that we needed to help Paula and motivate her on her journey."

Paula was determined to protect her heart and help her blood pressure go down. After many hours of working out and swimming combined with healthier eating habits, Paula has lost 100 pounds.

"We are so proud of Paula's success so far and we continue following her on her path to wellness," says Cindy. "To encourage Paula on her journey, the care team from the center joined Paula at the American Heart Association's 2011 Orange County Heart Walk."

Paula is currently at Santa Ana Community College working on her Medical Assistant Certificate and prerequisites for the nursing program. Through her background and journey, Paula has learned the importance of taking care of your health at a young age.

"It's very important for young women to take care of their heart early in their life because heart disease develops slowly and does not only affect older women," says Paula. "If I could give any advice to young women, I would tell them to be very selective about what they let into their body, just because they are young does not mean that you can be unhealthy. It will catch up to you sooner than expected."

Meet The Team

The care team at the MemorialCare Center for Women's Cardiac Health & Research focuses on early detection and prevention strategies to improve women's life-long health and well-being. A group of advanced practice nurses, RNs and cardiologists understand that women's hearts are different and they need unique care. Each member of the care team is available to offer support and provide guidance on each woman's heart journey.