Atlanta, Ga. (February 28, 2014) – The Bert Show’s Kristin Klingshirn says she looks and feels the best she ever has. So when she went through a women’s heart screening program at Piedmont Heart in support of American Heart Month, she was shocked to learn her results.
Klingshirn, whose maternal grandfather passed away from a heart attack, found out that her cholesterol, triglycerides and Lipoprotein(a) – a particularly bad type of cholesterol – were higher than they should be or at the very upper limits of what is considered “normal.” Additionally, Klingshirn’s mother, grandmother and brother all have high cholesterol and her father has diabetes – all factors that increase Klingshirn’s risk for heart disease.
“It was a little shocking to hear how many risk factors I had,” said Klingshirn. “I did not see that coming. It was a rude awakening as I sat in the doctor’s office and she looked at me with genuine concern.”
For the first time in four decades, death from coronary heart disease is on the rise in U.S. women ages 35 to 54 years old, according to the American Heart Association. Because it was discovered that Klingshirn already has several of the major risk factors for heart disease at such a young age, doctors believe if she does not change anything about her lifestyle going forward, there could be severe consequences in time.
“Kristin’s really young, she’s gorgeous, she looks healthy, and a lot of people would think she falls right into that ideal category for cardiovascular health,” said Jyoti Sharma, M.D., Piedmont Heart. “Instead, what we’ve found is that she’s got three – maybe four – risk factors for cardiovascular disease. That is a lot for someone her age.”
After learning her results, Klingshirn resolved to change her diet, lower her cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and work exercise into her routine.
“Thankfully, I’m not going to die of a heart attack tomorrow,” said Klingshirn. “Right now, I have a very low chance of having a cardiac event but these results mean I need to start taking better care of myself. Otherwise, I could have issues in the future. I just want this to be a reminder to women that if you look in the mirror and you like what you see, it’s not so much about what you look like but what diet and exercise does for your insides.”
Heart disease poses a particular threat to Georgia women and accounts for 28.2 percent of all female deaths, according to the American Heart Association. That’s the equivalent of about 27 deaths each day.
“The women’s heart screening program is still pretty new to Piedmont,” said Dr. Sharma. “The scary part is that 50 percent of the women who have come in to get screened so far need to follow up with a cardiologist. Heart disease has long been referred to as the silent killer of women and the fact that women who participate in this program have not experienced symptoms but still need to follow up with cardiologists is telling.”
The women’s heart screening program at Piedmont includes a complete health history assessment, a physical exam, lab work and more. Women who go through the program receive a full heart health report and a customized plan with next steps toward achieving optimal heart health. For more information about the new screening program or to take a free online assessment of your own risk for heart disease, visit piedmontheart.org.