Ladies, it's not just your grandfather's disease

Jennifer Gay has a family history of heart disease. When she went in to get her cholesterol check she was blown away by her numbers.

It kills one woman every 80 seconds and each year one in three deaths among women is caused by it. We're talking about heart disease.

"I'm a big salt eater," Jennifer Gay said. "I love salty foods, salty anything and I really like steak."

At 21-years-old Jennifer Gay didn't exactly eat healthy.

"Twenty-year-olds don't think about those things," she said.

That's what she thought before she was diagnosed with high cholesterol.

"I was pretty scared about it at first," Gay said.

She has a family history of heart disease. Her grandfather had a heart attack at 41 and her father at 38. Thanks to her pushy mom, who's a nurse she went in early on to get her cholesterol checked. It came back at 270. That number should have been between 100 and 200.

"It was kind of scary but I didn't know how to process it because I didn't really know anything about what it meant," Gay said.

Which is why doctors are urging women in their twenties to get educated on heart disease, now.

"If you don't do something now, in five or ten years you're going to have issues," Deb Best, a cardiovascular clinical nurse specialist said.

Debbie Best a cardiovascular nurse specialist at Covenant says if you have a family history make sure your other risk factors are under control. That means...

"...exercising, knowing what your blood pressure is, knowing your cholesterol, or getting exercise," Best said.

According to a study by the American Heart Association, women between 25-34 years old have the lowest awareness rate of any age group.

Best says one of the easiest ways you can keep your heart health in check is by getting your cholesterol looked at.

"Your cholesterol really is a factor of how your body is breaking down some components," Best says.

Now in her late twenties that is something Gay is now aware of and she's taken steps to bring her cholesterol down.

"Eating lean proteins has helped to kind of curb my red meat addiction and I eat venison a lot," she said.

But this is more than a diet change for Gay. It's a lifestyle she hopes all women take to heart.

"It's real and it happens at all ages and just because the men in your family have heat problems doesn't mean you're not going to get it," she said.

Right now Gay is still working on kicking her salty habits to bring her cholesterol down but she says it's a work in progress.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off