After a heart attack at 38, woman gives up meat, salt, stress and Washington, D.C.
As more and more women take on leadership roles, from being the heads of companies and departments to being the top or primary breadwinner for their families, their stress levels are on the rise.
And with that, so are their risks of heart disease — already the No. 1 killer of women, more than all the cancers combined.
Single mom and now former business owner Arlie Morgan wasn’t aware of that until she had a heart attack at age 38 on Aug. 28, 2011.
She was shopping in a CVS pharmacy in the Washington, D.C., area on her lunch hour, in a hurry, and collapsed. When she came to, emergency workers were standing over her taking her vital signs. Her blood pressure was 244 over 178 (120/80 is normal).
“When I woke up, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to go on an ambulance. I thought I was just tired or stressed out,” she recalls.
The denial faded in the emergency room when, surrounded by family members, a doctor gave her the facts: She had to make a change or she wasn’t going to be around for her daughter, Kilian, who is now 13.
Even though Morgan had quit a nine-year cigarette smoking habit in 2008, she had to make changes to her diet and work habits.
Morgan, who co-owned a boutique with her sisters, was working 85 hours a week, didn’t exercise and ate an unhealthy diet. She took the advice of her cardiologist seriously.
Time to change
Morgan became a vegetarian, cut out sodium, started walking and doing meditation and made a life-changing move.
After reading Pat Conroy’s “South of Broad,” she and Kilian visited Charleston, and its slower pace of life called her. She and Kilian moved to James Island last September.
Morgan now works as the general manager of Sweet 185, a sugaring and organic boutique on King Street, and in January started volunteering for the local American Heart Association and its Go Red for Women campaign.
Go Red for Women
She will be among the survivors helping with the heart association’s second annual Charleston Go Red for Women Luncheon on April 24 at the Riviera Theater, 225 King St.
“It’s a fun day to get together and celebrate the survivors in the room,” says spokeswoman Robyn Reese. “It’s an opportunity for women to ask questions and learn from survivors.”
Last year’s inaugural Charleston event raised $98,000 for the Go Red for Women campaign, which has been underway nationally for a decade.
In all, last year’s 200 luncheons across the nation raised a whopping $33 million.
Reach David Quick at email@example.com.