When she talks about her multiple heart surgeries, Natasha Fleischman is matter of fact about it: “Oh, they’re stopping my heart again.”
Fleischman, who owns Woodbury’s along with her husband Bob, is a “champion” with WomenHeart, through which she advocates for women’s heart health.
It’s something Fleischman knows a lot about.
In 2002, she survived sudden cardiac arrest and had a defibrillator implanted in her chest. Doctors found that she had dilated cardio myopathy: her heart wasn’t pumping as it should. Things got better after that.
“I went seven years just kicking butt,” Fleischman said.
But in December 2010, her defibrillator gave her heart a jolt, and she later found she had a blood infection and once again found herself scheduling numerous doctor visits.
“It was pretty darn terrifying,” Fleischman said. “I could have died several times that week.”
She didn’t, and has since resumed her mission to educate women about the dangers of heart disease. It’s especially important for Fleischman during February, American Heart Month, though it’s on her mind year round.
“My husband says it’s like Christmas—it keeps getting earlier,” Fleischman said.
As a WomenHeart champion, she does a lot of public speaking, mostly to women’s groups, churches and at organizations like the . She went through the WomenHeart training seminar after her first sudden cardiac arrest.
“Whatever I can do, I go out there and do it,” Fleischman said.
Most people don’t realize that heart disease kills more women than all other cancers combined each year, said Fleischman, who participates in every female-centric medical study she can.
“I feel like it’s my duty to have another female body in the research,” she said.
These days, Fleischman said she’s feeling better.
“I feel very, very fortunate,” Fleischman said. “Most people like me don’t make it. I’ve cheated death four times—we’re hoping I’m like a cat: nine lives.”
Visit the WomenHeart website for more information about heart health.
To contact Fleischman about speaking engagements, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.