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MTSU Go Red for Women Day event raises women's heart health awareness

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MTSU students Mackenzie Carroll, left, and Lauren Davis are shown with the posters telling their stories about heart-related illnesses. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- February is American Heart Month. And MTSU once again participated in the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign.

The MTSU community gathered Friday (Feb. 2 National Wear Red Day) for a short program and heart-shaped photo opportunity for attendees assembled in the Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium.

Those attending learned about risks and symptoms of heart disease in women and men, too. Heart disease affects millions of Americans each year. Heart disease and stroke kill 1 in 3 women, but it is nearly 80 percent preventable.

Four MTSU students' stories -- how they have dealt with heart-associated health issues -- were shared through a video (https://youtu.be/4StCqfYvdJw). They include:

• Maureen Norris of Murfreesboro, a foreign language major in the College of Liberal Arts, has congestive heart failure, a pacemaker and defibrillator.

• Adia Moody of Dyersburg, Tennessee, a sophomore accounting major in the Jones College of Business, has neurocardiogenic syncope.

• Lauren Davis of Clarksville, Tennessee, a junior multimedia journalism major in the College of Media and Entertainment, has atrial septic defect.

• Mackenzie Carroll of Murfreesboro, sophomore health administration major in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, has cardiogenic syncope.

Norris, 49, has endured a congenital heart defect (at birth), mitral valve prolapse, two strokes two heart attacks, congestive heart failure, a pacemaker and defibrillator and other medical issues.

"Doctors have given me six months to live, then three months to live after the pacemaker. I'm still here," Norris said. "Here I am, in my senior year of college."

Moody experienced dizzy spells as an eighth-grader, and eventually saw cardiologist Paul Jackson.

"I was scared because I didn't really know what to expect," Moody said. "Dr. Jackson took great measures to make sure I knew everything about my condition and what to do if I ever had an episode. ... After all the testing and my diagnoses, I have learned that the sky is the limit as long as I monitor my condition."

After Davis' mother had heart surgery when Lauren was 8, doctors tested her for the possibility of a genetic condition. No problems surfaced. At 10 and having a breathing problem her family believed to be asthma-related, she returned to the doctor, who discovered a heart condition.

"I had a hole in the upper chamber of the heart and it was two times larger than it was supposed to be," Davis said. "I had to undergo open heart surgery, where they found I had a pulmonary vein going to the wrong side of my heart, adding an extra two hours to my surgery."

An athlete her entire life, Carroll "knew something was off" and passed out while running at track practice. Two weeks later, she collapsed just before a choir practice. She visited her doctor, who referred her to Vanderbilt Pediatric Cardiology.

"It was life-changing and it's challenging, even though I've been living with my condition for five years, but a bright side is I am allowed to always eat in class and I've learned to pinpoint my symptoms to where I don't pass out everywhere any more."

Wear Red Day is sponsored by MTSU Health Promotion, Student Health Services, Raider Health Corps and Alpha Chi Omega.

MTSU has more than 240 combined undergraduate and graduate programs.

To learn more about the national movement, visit https://www.goredforwomen.org/wearredday/.

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