Elizabeth Beard – Today We Go Red
When I wrote my blog last year at this time, I issued a plea for everyone to not only wear a red dress, but to wear red shoes in honor of all of the women who suffer with Peripheral Artery Disease. This plea was answered in a big way for me, and for patients all around the globe because of the many initiatives the American Heart Association (AHA) is involved with today.
I am honored to serve as the first “real woman” to represent PAD on the National level for Go Red For Women, a program of the American heart Association. When I was first diagnosed in 2013, there weren’t very many places to find information on my condition. There was no therapy offered to me before or after my bi-femoral aortic bypass as it did not fall under cardiac rehabilitation, so my insurance company would not pay for the therapy that I needed. There were no support groups to see me through my recovery and help me to learn to live with this disease.
However, in four short years since my surgery the changes that are taking place in this field are remarkable, and they are to a great extent due to research and awareness efforts funded by the AHA.
Today, Medicare has approved supervised exercise therapy for PAD patients, which is a huge milestone. I truly hope all other insurance provider’s will adopt this same treatment for their members. The AHA now has a support network for patients and caregivers of patients with PAD. They also continue to update and improve the latest information on vascular diseases on this website. I urge you to sign up and learn more about PAD.
In 2016, I was introduced to Terri Wiggins, Vascular Lead at AHA. This remarkable woman has worked tirelessly to bring awareness to my disease. She was the one person who made me believe that I could make a difference in the lives of others by telling my story. She gave me hope that there was someone out there who cared. I am proud to call her my mentor and friend.
Her efforts are in part made possible through your donation to Go Red and the AHA. I have been afforded the opportunity through the AHA to meet in person some of the greatest scientific minds that work continuously each day to bring awareness to this disease, to develop new diagnostic tools and treatments for vascular diseases.
As a patient, it has been life-changing to know that there are people who care, people who have dedicated their entire life’s work to vascular diseases. They have inspired me in so many ways to realize the importance of being an advocate for the patients with this disease, and for the physicians that treat it. I am not alone, and I will continue to shout it from the rooftops for as long as necessary.
You see, Peripheral Artery Disease and other vascular diseases are not as exciting as heart disease and stroke in a story-telling way, unless you are one of the millions that are experiencing a great change in your quality of life, have lost a limb, or have lost a loved one due to PAD. The statistics of the impact of this disease are so alarming that it really is inconceivable that someone would go undiagnosed in this day and age, but it happens every single day. We all believe in our heart that it is merely a lack of awareness both on the part of patients and their health care providers. It is our mission to change this.
The most recent statistics show that 8-10 million Americans and more than 200 million people worldwide are affected by Peripheral Artery Disease. This disease is most prevalent in those over 50 years of age and the Social Security Administration estimates that every day for the next 20 years 10,000 people will turn 65 every day.
Ten thousand people a day is certainly a big number. Over 365 days, that’s almost 4 million people. The monetary damage will be staggering if we do not address this disease now. When Medicare has to pay the bill – we have to pay the bill in taxes. This should be a concern to everyone in this day and age of trying to reduce healthcare costs.
I feel an urgency like never before in bringing awareness to my disease. I do not want to lose my legs. I do not want to die. I implore you to support our efforts in this fight. We need every single voice to support not only heart and stroke, but vascular disease awareness as well.
If you are a current or former smoker or if you suffer from diabetes ask your health care professional to check the pulse in your feet, and to examine and test you for PAD. You can’t afford not to.
Please remember as you put on your red today, that women suffer many kinds of cardiovascular disease. Let not one woman ever feel left out again. We are a sisterhood. We are a tribe. We are survivors. We are one. We Go Red.