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Not Taking Heart Health for Granted

After a lifetime of living with heart disease, Kathy Webster of Kansas City helps spread awareness about women’s heart disease

Kathy Webster"After you've had heart disease or survived a heart attack, you go through a period of fear and sadness," says Kathy Webster, local bank officer and cardiology patient. "You wonder why it had to happen to you, and you wonder, 'What if it happens again?'"

Webster gets it because she's been through it.

At the age of 4, she underwent her first heart procedure, a catheterization to examine a heart murmur at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. At 18, she received treatment for supravalvular aortic stenosis – a heart defect that develops before birth – at the Mayo Clinic.

Quality treatment

A patient of Mid-America Cardiology since 1980, Webster has spent the last 25 years developing a close relationship with cardiologists at The University of Kansas Health System.

She saw James Harbrecht, MD, for several years. When she developed atrial fibrillation, Dr. Harbrecht referred her to Loren Berenbom, MD, a heart rhythm specialist. In 2005, Webster underwent a complicated six-part surgery at The University of Kansas Health System, which included a replacement of her aortic valve, repair of two aneurysms, a coronary artery bypass graft, repair of damage from an earlier surgery, and a maze procedure to correct her atrial fibrillation.

"Even though I've always been aware that I've had heart problems, I didn't know I had a blocked artery until my doctor did an angiogram the day before my bypass surgery," says Webster. "I've seen firsthand the importance of taking care of yourself."

Spreading the word

Since 2006, Webster has chosen to share that message with other women through WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.

"We have to be proactive about our health," says Webster. In addition to maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, which she admits is a constant challenge, part of her care involves regular checkups and communication with her doctors.

"You don't really know you have heart disease until you develop problems or are fortunate enough to have it discovered at a doctor's visit," says Webster. "You can't take anything for granted."