Fighting Heart Disease

By: Lauren Evans Email
By: Lauren Evans Email

They say defibrillators are lifesavers. Just ask Patricia Kavalir.

"I was having a massive coronary while I was in a parking garage and had it not been for my defibrillator firing three times, they say I would not be here at all," she says.

Patricia's on her third defibrillator. She's had more than 20 heart surgeries since her heart first stopped beating 10 years ago.

"I knew I was in really big trouble," Kavalir recalls.

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women. Patricia says her heart disease was brought on by chemotherapy for breast cancer, but for millions of Americans it's something they can easily prevent.

"You can eliminate a lot of the risk factors so that you are not setting yourself up to develop heart disease later in life," explains Deana Newman, a cardiovascular perfusionist who volunteers with the American Heart Association.

Some risk factors you can't change, like your age, gender, race, and family history.

Others you can manage, like high blood pressure, and whether you smoke, live a sedentary lifestyle, or are obese or overweight.

Newman says one of the best things you can do to prevent heart disease is exercise.

"Oh, it can make a major difference," she says. "Not only can it help you lose weight, it can also help you reduce stress. A wonderful part of stress management is taking that time for yourself, but also just doing exercise."

Patricia's daughter, Keri Buscemi, knows first hand how frightening and life-altering heart disease can be, so she's making changes at home to benefit her husband and daughters.

"We eat healthy, we try and exercise, we stay active," Buscemi says. "Also, I work very hard to make sure my children's friends and their families know things that they can do."

Simple things that can make a world of difference.

For more information on heart disease and how you can prevent it, click on the Hot Button or visit

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