For many of those involved with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, they have a story to tell. Sometimes it is a personal survivour story or often a loved one, friend or a co-worker who has been affected by heart disease or stroke. Donya Fiske, area manager Vancouver Island/Powell River/Gulf Islands for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, is no different.
"I come from a family with very extensive history of heart disease. In February 2004 my personal story changed”.
Donya, native of Nova Scotia, came to the Island five years ago and was recruited as a heart and stroke volunteer and did so with great vigor. A few months later, the opportunity for employment was presented and she knew she had been given a voice.
"I have found passion effortlessly in my work with the Foundation. And because of my family history and the risk factors that lay within, I had made some personal choices about my weight, lifestyle and heart health”.
The work of the Foundation pivots around understanding the underlying causes of heart disease and stroke, which allows for earlier diagnosis. Education and health promotion within BC communities works to teach individuals to understand not only what puts them at risk for heart disease and stroke, but how to manage these risks. It also works to educate the public to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. "I know that if this heart health message reaches hundreds of ears and makes the difference to one, then I have done something significant”.
On February 18th, 2004 Donya’s father died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack at 58 years young. He chose not to hear this message. The risk factors were there, the signs and symptoms were there to heed them.
"I can not express to you enough the importance of taking charge and understanding your own health”. Fiske goes on to outline that first, you must understand what puts you at risk and then make a choice to manage those risks. Visit your doctor regularly to know your blood pressure, your cholesterol levels or to get help with diabetes, weight loss and addiction challenges. And be sure that you are able to identify the signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, it could save your life or the life of someone you love.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Canada. It affects us all and only you can affect change in your life and the lives of others by example. For more information on heart disease and stroke visit www.heartandstroke.ca or call 1-888-HSF-INFO.