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Andie MacDowell Advocates For Women's Heart Health

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Actress Andie MacDowell tells EmpowHER that she was inspired to become a heart health advocate after her mother passed away from a heart attack.

Todd Hartley:
Hi, and thank you for joining us at EmpowHER where we improve health and change lives. You have seen Andie MacDowell look flat out stunning on the cover of Vogue, in commercials for Calvin Klein, and starring in timeless movies like “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “Groundhog Day” or even “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” but what you might not have known is Andie lost her mom to a heart attack and cardiovascular disease, and she joins me right now to share her mom’s story and to talk with us about prevention. Hi Andie.

Andie MacDowell:

Todd Hartley:
Andie, it’s nice to have you. In a moment we are going to talk about how women can create a real dialogue in their doctor’s office about their cardiovascular health, but first, when was the first time you learned that your mom had cardiovascular disease?

Andie MacDowell:
I didn’t know it until she died. My mother, I think, had started to have some symptoms and those motivated her to finally go to a doctor, but my mother was not good about going to a doctor at all and she did not get yearly checkups. So, she was ignoring the signs.

Andie MacDowell:
And she wasn’t advocating for herself by sharing it with another person, right? So you found out when it was too late.

Andie MacDowell:
That’s correct. Yeah, when she died we didn’t know that she had had any heart issues or problems. But, she had had some symptoms that she had been ignoring and by the time she finally went, it was too late and I think she probably didn’t go to the right doctor and she wasn’t a very good advocate for herself at all.

Todd Hartley:
Yeah, that’s too bad, you know, you and I have something in common. I didn’t know until I was lying in bed next to my grandfather when he suffered a heart attack and it’s advocating for his life that inspired me to join the team here at EmpowHER. How has your mom’s cardiovascular disease and her memory inspired you?

Andie MacDowell:
Well, you know, I am 52 right now and I am going to be 53 next year which is the age that my mother died and I know how I have been feeling, how nervous that I have felt about my heart, I mean sometimes I don’t, I was suspicious of different things. I didn’t know if I was feeling something that meant something and it really took me going through being able to use the video that taught you how to have a great relationship with your doctor for me to finally have a comfortable relationship with the doctor and have that affirmation that I was okay.

But, you know, it’s just important for me to be able to help all women be able to be a good advocate for themselves.

Todd Hartley:
Andie, you have been on the website timetotalkcardio.com. I am a heart survivor myself. I looked at the content. It looked very, very good. You and former Surgeon General of the United States Dr. Richard Carmona are spearheading a campaign and the campaign is, as I mentioned, Time To Talk Cardio – it’s creating a real dialogue in the office and, why is Time To Talk Cardio a great tool for people to help address their cardiovascular concerns?

Andie MacDowell:
Well, it will pinpoint very specific problems. You go and it’s like a little test that you can take and you can put in different things that bother you or specifically set for your own personal issues, and I took it and it was incredible what I learned in a very short period of time. It did not take very much time for me to really get some important clues into what I was doing wrong.

I actually saw people that were very, that had a very strong demeanor and they are not inappropriate by any means, but much stronger than I had ever been with my doctor and just being able to stand up for themselves and be an advocate and be able to ask questions, and I always was intimidated. I never really felt that comfortable being able to be an advocate for myself. I always felt like the doctor’s time was more important than mine. I didn’t want to take up their time and that’s all wrong because you need to be able to ask these questions; you are paying for it and they are your doctor, and they can’t answer it unless you ask them, and they don’t remind.

And so I learned a lot in a very short period of time just by taking that test and watching the videos that they showed.

Todd Hartley:
Yeah, I had a similar experience. Time To Talk Cardio is designed to help people get the answers to their cardiovascular questions, know the details of their heart problem, understand their treatment plan, and meet their goals of their visit. Andie, how can a patient listening to this interview take advantage of tools and then have a better experience when they go to the doctor and feel like their needs are met and their curiosity is also addressed?

Andie MacDowell:
Well if you just go to the website, if you just put in Time To Talk Cardio it will come up and then it’s very easy. It will walk you through it and how to use the system in order to change maybe some bad habits that you may have like I did and just watching videos; there’s different videos that will come up for your whatever problems you put in there, you describe yourself as a patient and just simply watching that it took, you know, ten minutes and it was really, really quick and I learned a lot about myself and I was able to change my habits that I had acquired over the years with my doctor, and the way I go about my process now is completely different and I very quickly was able to come out of the doctor’s office for the first time feeling like I understood my health.

Todd Hartley:
Yeah, I think that’s a good point. At EmpowHER we believe the empowered patient, the communication that they have with their doctor is totally different than a novice patient that may not be empowered. For me, it’s writing a long list of detailed questions that I need to know when I leave and not be ashamed. That’s some of the stuff you are talking about, right?

Andie MacDowell:
Right, yeah and I had all these problems, and the other thing is double suggestions that they made that I think is a really important one is going over what the doctor has told you because I think if people are like me, you get anxious, you get nervous, you feel like you have only ‘x’ amount of time and because you are anxious and you are nervous you forget everything the doctor had said, and one of the suggestions was to repeat back to the doctor what they had told you so then you know you retained it; you’ve actually learned what the doctor had told and that was another big clue for me in how to end the time that I had with my doctor, to finish up our visit.

Todd Hartley:
To learn more about Time To Talk Cardio, an educational program underwritten by Merck and company and developed in partnership with the American Academy of Family Physicians and Canyon Ranch Institute, which is located here in Arizona, visit www.timetotalkcardio.com.

Andie MacDowell, thank you so much for helping us improve health and change lives.

Andie MacDowell:
Okay great, thank you so much.

Time To Talk Cardio: Creating A Real Dialogue In the Office

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