February is recognized nationally as Heart Health Awareness Month, and Kaiser Permanente believes strongly in raising public awareness about the importance of being in touch with one’s body and not neglecting symptoms of possible heart disease that could ultimately lead to death if not treated properly.
Take the case of Danette Buoye, a Kaiser Permanente area director for Event Management, Employee Engagement and Volunteer Services at the Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center. On Feb. 1, 2019, she nervously waited behind the stage at a local news station, preparing to model in a heart awareness fashion show. It was in that moment she couldn’t help but reflect about why she was asked to participate in this fashion show and how her journey led her to this very moment.
Living with a heart murmur
“I lived with a heart murmur not considered life-threatening for many years,” said Danette. But later in life, she began experiencing shortness of breath during walks, including to and from her office. “Normal activities began to feel like exhausting chores. I dismissed these symptoms to being out of shape and getting older.”
After temporarily losing her vision, she decided it was time to face the facts that something was wrong, and to see her physician.
That visit turned out to be the difference between life and potential death. Columbus Batiste, MD, a cardiologist at Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center, explained to Danette that her aortic stenosis was severe enough to require valve replacement surgery. Additionally, Danette needed surgical treatment for an aortic aneurysm. Danette didn't hesitate to begin surgical treatment, in addition to making lifestyle changes.
Today, Danette is thriving following surgery, heart-strong and back at work at Kaiser Permanente. She is the ambassador at the American Heart Association for the Inland Empire in Southern California. It was her work as ambassador that led to her Feb. 1 invitation to “walk the runway” on the local news station’s Go Red for Women/Wear Red Day Runway Show, where she was presented as a heart disease survivor and a model wearing the latest red designs from a popular retailer.
Danette wants everyone to know to “really listen to your body, believe what you’re feeling and see a doctor because your body might be telling you something important.”
To learn more about preventing heart disease, visit kp.org.