A mid-Missouri woman has been selected as a national spokeswoman for the American Heart Association's "Go Red For Women" campaign. Christie Thompson, a teacher from Jefferson City, was selected to be one of ten women to advocate for the cause after suffering a heart attack in November 2011.
Thompson only knew she was having a heart attack because she had viewed a video starring actress Elizabeth Banks who, in a humorous way, stressed the importance of recognizing the signs of a heart attack.
"My sister-in-law Kim had emailed me the video...and I laughed, but then I deleted it because heart disease was not in my family."
Just a month after viewing the video, Thompson had an episode of unfamiliar chest pains. She called 9-1-1, and sure enough, the paramedics told her she was having a heart attack. Doctors found that she had one-hundred percent blockage of one of her arteries and she underwent emergency surgery.
Her son, Brett, a United States Marine was stationed in Washington D.C., and her daughter, Hallie, was about to be married three weeks later.
Brett commented, "I had gotten a call from my mom, a simple mom checking in and she didn't sound right to me at all. She said, 'I have some bad news.' And I said, 'What's that?' She said, 'I had a heart attack.' Everything in the world just kind of stopped right there."
Luckily, Brett was able to come home and be at his mother's side following her surgery. Christie's strong will helped her recover just in time to dance at her daughter's wedding.
The next phone call she made would change her life. While on the phone with an insurance agent, she was notified of a casting call for women for a campaign called "Go Red For Women," an organization ran by the American Heart Association.
After attending the casting call in St. Louis, Thompson was later notified that she was a finalist, then eventually an official spokeswoman for the campaign.
Thompson says she was excited, and got to travel to Hollywood for a photoshoot as well as film a video to personally thank Elizabeth Banks for making the video that saved her life.
When asked what advice she had for women about heart disease prevention, she said, "A heart attack was not on my radar but I knew those symptoms because of the video. All women need to know those symptoms and get to the hospital. If its nothing, great, but if its a heart attack the sooner you get to the hospital the less damage you have."
Thompson has been to a few events across mid-Missouri to promote Go Red For Women and will be featured in Jefferson City Magazine next month. She wants people to know that they can learn about the cause or donate at www.goredforwomen.org