OBITUARIES: Decatur | Shoals | Huntsville
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Seeing red
Heart disease No. 1 killer of women
By Bobby Bozeman -
Photo courtesy American Heart Association
Women are encouraged to wear red Friday to raise awareness of women’s heart health.

Susan Bentley knows a thing or two about heart health.

But that didn’t stop Bentley, a nurse practitioner who also volunteers with the American Heart Association, from developing heart problems of her own.

“This last October, I decided to start practicing what I preach and start exercising,” Bentley said. “I had a bit of chest pain. As a result, I was found to have some blockage. So I ended up — after the cardiac cath and all the fun and games with that — having to adhere to a heart-healthy diet and pay attention to my cholesterol lipids and straighten up.”

Bentley works at Women’s Health Options in Muscle Shoals and said she advises 30 to 40 patients a day about heart health.

“Even though it is something I discuss with my patients each visit, it wasn’t something I was paying attention to myself,” she said. “I just really didn’t have time to make a doctor’s visit myself because I’m so busy with my own clinic schedule.

“The chest pain got pretty intense. I thought I would ignore it and it would go away, and it didn’t. “

Sometimes that’s what women do. Having to juggle all the responsibilities of work and family, Bentley said, heart health can take a backseat.

“We’re so busy with work and families and other activities, that until heart disease knocks us down, we keep stepping past the symptoms,” Bentley said.

The need for women to be more aware of their own heart health is highlighted by the fact that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.

“Women all think they could die of breast cancer, but one out of three women will die of heart disease,” said Gina Smith, regional director at the Greater Southeast Affiliate of the American Heart Association.

“The challenge is that a lot of women don’t recognize that heart disease is the No. 1 killer, so they ignore the symptoms.”

For the past 10 years, the American Heart Association has been hosting Go Red For Women Day. On this day, women and men, individuals and businesses are encouraged to “go red” to raise awareness for women’s heart health.

This year, Go Red Day is Friday.

“Encourage people to wear red that day,” Smith said. “We encourage businesses to go red and even down to where everything you type in an email can use red lettering.”

Because of the movement, Smith said more than 627,000 women’s lives have been saved.

“Our movement isn’t as big as some of the other movements, but we are making a big difference,” she said.

The American Heart Association also is hosting the 2013 Heart Ball on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center in Florence. The black-tie event will raise money for the funding of biomedical research and educational and awareness programs.

The ball will feature fine dining, music and auctions.

For details about the Heart Ball, contact Smith at 256-702-7962 or visit

A Shoals Go Red for Women luncheon also is being held at the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa at 11 a.m. Friday, April 12.

For more details about the heart association and upcoming events. find the North Alabama American Heart Association on Facebook.

Bobby Bozeman can be reached at 256-740-5722 or bobby.bozeman@

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