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In Celebration of National Heart Health Month, Adventist Heart Institute Shares One Woman’s Courageous Story and How a Well-Woman Visit Saved Her Life

Heart Health

ST. HELENA, CA—It’s National Heart Health Month, a month in which millions of people nationwide raise awareness of heart disease and stroke. Equally as important, it’s a month that is intended to encourage all women to schedule a well-woman visit, an annual check-up that can help women assess their risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

At the age of 27, Jasmine Garcia of St. Helena, CA would never have imagined that she would need open-heart surgery. But, on April 13, 2016, that is exactly what she had. During a routine physical, Jasmine was shocked when her primary care doctor asked her if she knew that she had a heart murmur. “I had no idea, I never felt sick or thought anything could be wrong with my heart,” says Jasmine.

She was immediately referred to a local interventional cardiologist, Dr. Stewart Allen who performed an echocardiogram, a diagnostic test that creates pictures of the heart. The test results were life-changing. Dr. Allen detected an aortic root aneurysm with bicuspid aortic valve and severe aortic insufficiency, a potentially life-threatening condition if the aneurysm were to rupture. Dr. Allen knew that Jasmine needed surgical treatment and referred her to a leading cardiothoracic surgeon with the Adventist Heart Institute, Dr. Gan Dunnington.

After a series of tests were completed, Jasmine was scheduled for surgery the next day. “She was quite sick, we needed to do an aortic root repair with coronary button reimplantation.” Jasmine’s surgery went very well and she spent six days recovering in the hospital before going home. Within three months of the procedure, Jasmine was back to work as an admissions clerk at St. Helena Hospital.

“Dr. Dunnington and the team at the Adventist Heart Institute saved my life. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them,” says Jasmine. “I’m proud to wear red in support of Heart Health Month and help raise awareness.” Jasmine’s colleagues at St. Helena Hospital also wore red in support of her and to help raise awareness for women across the nation. Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death, with more than 17 million deaths each year. That number is expected to rise to more than 23.6 million by 2030. In the United States, 1 in every 3 women will be affected by heart disease. But, studies show that 80 percent of cardiac events are preventable.

Dr. Monica Divakaruni, interventional cardiologist and women’s heart health specialist says “It’s so important for women to know their numbers, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index, and get checked at an early age. Women, in particular, can be completely asymptomatic and have no idea that they are living with heart disease until something drastic, like a heart attack, happens. A well-woman visit can get to the heart of a woman’s numbers, so she understands her baseline and her risks.”

If you or someone you know needs to schedule a physical or well-woman visit, call Adventist Heart Institute at 888.529.9018. With offices in Napa, Lake, Sonoma, Solano and Mendocino Counties, their team of cardiologists and surgeons are passionate about education and helping people understand and reduce their risks of developing heart