Heart Aware Test Saving Lives

Reporter: Danner Evans l Videographers: Brian Whitesell & Ira Quillen

Lynchburg, VA - Heart disease claims a million lives a year, and about 250,000 people die without even knowing they've got the disease.

You don't have to be one of those numbers. Your diagnosis is just a mouse click away.

Pat Merryman loves food, especially saucy and greasy food. But you won't find any of that on her plate these days. Her change of heart started after her father's heart attack.

"Yeah, it was a pretty big wake up call. I'm still thinking it's not going to happen to me. It's not going to happen to me," she said.

Then Merryman took Centra's "Heart Aware" survey online to assess her risk of heart disease. The numbers were not good.

"I was like, 'Oh my goodness. Guess I need to do something about this,'" Merryman said.

That seven minutes Pat spent online were crucial according to Centra cardiovascular nurse Beckie Hunt.

"Seven minutes could save a life," Hunt explained.

If the test shows you're at risk, Hunt follows up with you to let you know what options are available to get you back on track.

She said everyone over the age of 35 should take it, especially if you're a smoker or have a family history of heart disease.

Her advice is not to wait until there are symptoms to do something about heart disease.

"That is the whole purpose of Heart Aware," Hunt said. "To identify people that are a-symptomatic. If they are having symptoms they will seek help. If they are not those are the people we lose to sudden cardiac death."

Merryman is determined to get her heart in shape. Through diet and exercise she is doing it and cutting her blood pressure, cholesterol and weight.

"I love clothes and all that kind of stuff so yes I'm having fun buying new clothes and feeling good," Merryman admitted. "That's the main thing. I feel great."

To take the Heart Aware test.