RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Eunice Gentry says she's lucky to be alive.
Three years ago, doctors discovered Gentry had clots in her heart and lungs. Since then, she's worked with doctors at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage to change her eating habits and add medication to her treatment.
Eunice isn't alone.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
The health organization also says the symptoms can be hard to recognize.
"It's not always the elephant on the chest that is indicative of a heart attack but it can also be weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath or even nausea and vomiting," said John Dix, an emergency room nurse at Eisenhower Medical Center.
Eunice agrees. "You don't know your heart is not well if it doesn't give you any problems -- so it's always good to have it checked."
That's why Eisenhower Medical Center hosted its 10th annual Community Heart Conference Saturday in Rancho Mirage.
There were cooking demonstrations and informational booths focusing on symptoms, prevention of heart disease, and the latest treatments.
"They didn't come to find out about somebody else...things they got out of today are things that they are going to benefit from in the future," said Dr. Barry Hackshaw, Medical Director of Eisenhower's Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and Saturday's keynote speaker.
Doctors say the key to preventing heart problems is eating properly, maintaining proper weight and maintaining proper fitness.
They also say if you feel you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, you should call 911 immediately.
"The longer you wait the more damage will be done to your heart," said Dix.
Thanks to quick thinking, lifestyle changes, and the help of her doctor Eunice is up to her old tricks.
"We love to dance and I can dance, not as long as I used to, but I still get up there and pretend."
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