CINCINNATI — Lynn Maatman loves gardening, but planting this year's flowers is extra special for her because she has the energy to do it.
"I feel amazing," she said.
Just a year ago, Maatman tired out easily. A doctor told her that she had a mild valve leak, and she left it at that. But symptoms persisted and her husband, Steve, needed his own heart help.
"As [Steve's doctor] went down the list of things asking Steve — did he have this symptom, this symptom, tired up and down the steps — Steve and I started laughing," she said.
One in three women lose their lives to cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association. For Maatman, it took her husband's heart issue to make her pay attention to her own body.
"I just said, 'Well, I'm not having trouble going up the stairs, my wife is having trouble going up stairs," he said.
Maatman followed the doctor's advice to get it checked again, and learned four of her heart valves were leaking. Like her husband, she needed surgery.
"The only difference was, they were able to repair his — had to replace mine," she said.
The surgery gave Maatman a new lease on life, and time to share her story. She and her husband walked the whole Opening Day Parade with folks from the Christ Hospital, the place that fixed their broken hearts.
Maatman says women shouldn't wait to take care of themselves. She's taking that message to the American Heart Association's "Go red for women luncheon" next Wednesday at the Duke Energy Convention Center. She has urged women to pay attention to your body, have a heart-to-heart with yourself and acknowledge and act on symptoms.
Her husband is glad she did.
"I want to see her healthy," he said. "That's important. I don't want to lost that special person, either."