Tracie Jones is an avid advocate for heart health. “If you’re a gentleman over the age of 40 or a female over the age of 45, you should be visiting the cardiologist once a year for prevention,” she explains. Tracie’s relationship with heart health started the week when she had two heart attacks. Within four days of each other. Tracie had never anticipated that she could have heart disease. Both of her parents had heart issues, but since they smoked, she had always chalked up their health complications to smoking. Since she had never been a smoker, drinker, or recreational drug user, she was sure she was safe.
Her first heart attack hit in her back. “It felt like I was giving birth out of my left shoulder blade,” she told me. “A woman that gives birth knows what that feels like. It takes your breath away.” However, she didn’t go to the hospital. The next day, she stayed home from work, but the day after that, she had an array of appointments that she had prescheduled. She went to each and every one of them. She had to hold her left arm straight down to avoid shooting pain, but she managed. Until dinner. While dining at a restaurant with a friend, Tracie experienced her second heart attack within four days. She tells me that she got extremely dizzy and nauseous. The only thought running through her head was “I have to get out of here, quick, before I make a fool out of myself.”
Tracie made her way to a corner hospital, where she recounted her experiences. The doctor told her that the shooting pain from before had been a heart attack, and she was having another one at that very moment. She was admitted to the ICU for a week. Because she waited to get treatment, she has some lasting heart damage to this day.
Now, Tracie speaks out about heart health every opportunity she gets. She volunteers often with the American Heart Association and is currently on the executive leadership team for the 2018 Heart Ball. She also has an ongoing relationship with Children’s Medical Center, where she provides goodie bags for the kids in the ER and helps plan out various events, such as the yearly family staff dinner at Chuy’s and “Cowabunga Friday” for the kids.
Tracie does a lot of work to educate women, in particular, on the importance of prioritizing heart health. She carries around a blood pressure cuff in her car. “That way, If I come across a woman that [says], ‘I’ve never checked my blood pressure’, I can help with that.” Tracie tells me that women often feel the need to take care of others before themselves. “If it’s a partner or spouse that’s undergoing that pain, we’ll tell them that they should do something about it,” she says. “[But] when it’s ourselves, it’s our tendency to stick our head in the sand. I did that. I stuck my head in the sand. If heart disease is the number one killer of women in this country, that says something. That says we’re not educating women.”
Tracie is the Director of Marketing & PR at Watter’s Creek Wealth Management and recently launched “be Boutique PR”. be Boutique provides marketing and social media management services for boutique-sized businesses in the area. Tracie is proud to say that her company has taken others from startup to the Home Shopping Network and everywhere in between. She actually started be Boutique PR shortly after her heart attacks. “I woke up, and I realized that life is very precious and it is a day to day thing,” she says.
Tracie took her experiences and learned how to frame them in a positive light. Now, she calls her heart attacks “Hope Attacks”. 65% of heart attack survivors land up with depression, but for Tracie, the Hope Attacks “don’t hang over [her]”. She knows that she can use her experiences to help others. “There’s somebody that woke up today that will end up in the hospital like I did, and there’s somebody that won’t survive. [I want people to know that] that it’s preventable.”