Inspiring Woman on a Mission: Sheila CaldwellJul 17, 2018
Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer in women in the United States and is more deadly than all types of cancer combined? Most people don’t.
Certainly Sheila Caldwell, founder of The Heart2Heart Foundation, didn’t when she was 50 years old and suffered a heart attack. In fact, there were lots of things Sheila didn’t know about women’s heart health because, as she said, “pretty much everything I thought I knew about heart disease was from a man’s perspective.”
Women and men can have very different symptoms in heart disease or a heart attack. While chest pain is common to both men and women, women are more likely to show other symptoms like nausea, lightheadedness, and back or jaw pain. It’s something most people - and even some doctors - don’t know. (A recent Yale School of Public Health said that doctors miss heart attack signs in women about half of the time, attributing the symptoms to other less serious causes).
All of this motivated Sheila to start Heart2Heart, which has compiled extensive resources, statistics, and educational materials to educate women and men in the South Carolina area about heart disease. By teaching her community about the warning signs and methods of lowering heart disease risk, she is working to save lives.
During her journey, Sheila learned that 400,000 women die every year from what is a largely preventable disease. Nearly half of these women could have been saved with early detection and intervention.
Since its creation in 2013, Sheila and her team of heart-centered volunteers have helped over 6,000 women and men in South Carolina learn their risks and leading them to continue the conversation with their local doctors.
Sheila has been involved with nonprofits from the local to the international level for more than 20 years. Her comprehensive knowledge of nonprofit organizations helped Heart2Heart thrive in South Carolina, where the all-volunteer crew (many of whom are healthcare professionals) are raising awareness and prompting lifestyle changes to increase heart health throughout the state.
In 2014, Heart2Heart worked with the office of then-Governor (and now the US Ambassador to the United Nations) Nikki Haley to create the statewide Screening Day every year on the third Thursday of February. During this Statewide Screening Day, Heart2Heart partners with health care providers to offer free basic heart health screenings and educational materials to both men and women in the community.
Because of the generosity of its donors, Heart2Heart is able to offer women and men heart health screenings and risk assessments at no charge.
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