Go Red for Women: Bringing awareness to heart disease

    6:44 PM, Feb 1, 2013   |    comments
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    Photo Gallery: THVers 'Go Red for Women'
    • Ed Buckner, Craig O'Neill, Dawn Scott, and Liz Massey wear red to bring awareness to heart disease.
    • Ashley Blackstone and Stefanie Bryant wear red to bring awareness to heart disease.

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark (KTHV) -- Heart disease does not discriminate based on a woman's age; the disease can be serious and silent to both young and old.

    Keesa Smith was enjoying the peak of her adult life when heart disease intervened sas she began to train for a half-marathon.

    "I'll never forget it, we were doing the MacArthur run, and I got over by Central High School and just felt like, 'I am not going to make it, this is not going well,'" Smith described; however, that feeling didn't worry her enough to seek medical attention that night, but the next day Keesa said co-workers encouraged her to go to the ER.

    "The problem was I went to the emergency room, and they told me that there was nothing wrong with me. They did an EKG, and they told me that I was fine, but if I had concerns I could go to a cardiologist," she said.

    Keesa took that advice and went through months of testing. Eventually, she said doctors discovered a heart deformity that had gone undetected for 30 years.

    "They told me that my heart was only functioning at about 60 percent, and if I wouldn't have done something I was at risk for sudden death," she said.

    In August 2011, Keesa underwent quintuple bypass surgery.

    "I was the youngest person in therapy; I was the youngest person in the hospital ward."

    At that moment, she realized she had a lot more life to live.

    Last year she completed her first 10K and Keesa said this year she plans to finally run that half-marathon.

    "I've been training, and I have my eight mile run on Saturday, and I've been sticking with the schedule, and March 3rd I'm registered, and I'll be there, and I plan on crossing the finish line," she exclaimed.

    Keesa said she's healthier now than she's ever been and encourages other women to see their physician if they feel something isn't right with their body.

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