Starr Jones: 'I am one of the faces of heart disease' - KMSP-TV

Starr Jones: 'I am one of the faces of heart disease'

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Starr Jones at the Go Red for Women Luncheon on February 15.  (Credit: Fox 2 News) Starr Jones at the Go Red for Women Luncheon on February 15. (Credit: Fox 2 News)

Not only is she a television personality, an attorney and an author, many people don't realize Starr Jones is also a heart disease survivor.  We spoke with her at Friday's Go Red for Women Luncheon at the MGM Grand Hotel in Detroit.

"I didn't wear that proudly initially.  I was scared out of my mind.  I had some shortness of breath.  I would get lightheaded when I would go from seated to standing too quickly.  Some intense heart palpitations, and I, of course, was looking for every other excuse in the book instead of thinking these are the classic female symptoms of heart disease."

"When I was diagnosed and told I would need open heart surgery to repair my aortic valve to stave off a replacement or a heart transplant later in life, I had to have elective open heart surgery....  When they tell you they're going to take your heart out of your body for almost a half hour, you get a little bit of fear.  I think I'm being honest when I say... a little trepidation, but you also get encouraged and you get purposeful, and coming through that, it really gave me my purpose in life.  Very little gets to me right now."

"But for the zipper and my belonging to the zipper club, I would not be affiliated with the disease that takes the lives of more women than any other disease that we have in the United States of America.  It's the number one killer of all Americans, the number one killer of women, the number one killer of African-Americans.  I'm three for three and I like to win, but I don't like to be number one when it comes to heart disease."

"I was sedentary.  I was obese and I moved to morbid obesity, but I got such good control over my health.  I lost over 150 pounds.  I managed to keep that amount of weight off.  It will be ten years this August....  So when I got those symptoms, it made me a little weirded out till I realized what I was facing because I never really thought that heart disease was a woman's disease.  I thought it was an old, white guy's disease, but not anymore because I am one of the faces of heart disease.  It impacts on women, and I'm here to be their champion."

Friday's luncheon raised about $700,000 for the cause.  All the money raised stays in metro Detroit.

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