As a way to promote good health in the community, the Mantua Township Committee has proclaimed February as Heart Month to raise awareness for cardiac disease and similar conditions.
The township has done so for eight years as a “very important” element in helping Mantua residents. For Mayor Robert Zimmerman, the heart month initiative is personal: He had emergency heart surgery in 2012.
“… I had emergency open-heart surgery after being diagnosed with the widow maker,” said Zimmerman, then 46. “I’ve been pretty open about it in hopes that my experience helps others.”
The widow maker is a euphemism for the type of heart attack that occurs when there is a blockage in the left anterior descending artery – the largest artery in the heart – that prevents blood from flowing. The affected artery provides 50 percent of the heart muscle’s blood supply, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
According to Edward-Elmhurst Health in Illinois, only 12 percent of people survive such an attack outside of a hospital, 25 percent within. The experience was a life-changing one for Zimmerman.
“My own experience with heart disease and surviving the widow maker at 46 has made me much more appreciative of things, especially life,” he noted. “It’s made me a better person and public servant.
“The idea (for the heart month proclamation) came about after others told me I should speak about it,” Zimmerman added, “because I didn’t meet the stereotypical profile of someone, they’d suspect of having heart disease. I was always healthy and in pretty good physical condition.”
Zimmerman recently shared his experiences on the township YouTube channel, where he also presented the heart month proclamation to George Gaughans, another Mantua resident with a history of heart disease.
“We urge our residents: Don’t wait until it’s too late,” the township Facebook page emphasizes. “If you are experiencing any chest discomfort, shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, heart palpitations, etc., please see your local health-care professional.
“Let’s continue to spread awareness, use preventive measures to combat this deadly disease and take care of our hearts.”
For more information, visit the American Heart Association’s website or contact a health-care provider.