Heart disease is a constant killer and at Boston Medical Center, they are trying so spread the word and promote prevention!

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States and the second leading cause of death in Massachusetts behind cancer.

Dr. Jennifer Ho, a cardiologist at Boston Medical Center, said the face of heart disease may not be what you think.

“One of the myths of heart disease, is that it’s a disease of men,” she said.

Vanessa Joyner of Boston was diagnosed with heart disease at 21 and has been living with it for more than 20 years.

“She has a more uncommon form of heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, it effects about 1 million Americans,” Ho said. “What happens is the heart muscle gets abnormally thick, and can’t pump effectively.”

Vanessa explains, it’s heredity.

“My mother’s side of the family, my mother’s mother had it, and two of my mother’s sisters had it,” she said/

But it wasn’t until into her 30’s that Vanessa began to really feel the effects of her disease.

After that, she began to manage her disease.

“Now I take blood thinners for the rest of my life,” Vanessa said.

And she’s careful about all the risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and lifestyle choices like smoking and being overweight.

“I think to raise awareness in young adults is particularly important, that’s when all of our lifestyle habits get formed,” Ho said.

Dr. Ho says everyone has to closely monitor their risk factors and as for Vanessa, her advice, pay close attention to your body.

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