Pine heart patient knows value of taking action early

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Melinda Kutzer and her late father shared a heart-felt connection — blockage in the anterior descending artery.

It's often called “the widow maker” because many people will not survive a heart attack in this region of the blood-pumping organ.

Knowing her father, Donald Meadow's, struggles with heart disease for 20-plus years — including two open-heart surgeries, an 82-day hospital stay and his death at the age of 68, eight years ago — Kutzer, 51, of Pine, took a proactive approach in caring for her heart.

She's been taking blood-pressure medication since she was in her 20s, eating right, exercising and getting regular checkups.

Kutzer invites all women to think about their hearts. That is the reason she will be wearing red Feb. 7. It's the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women National Wear Red Day. For the past 10 years, the Heart Association has set aside this day to get the message across that heart disease is not only an older woman's concern.

“My message would be for every woman to wear red and to realize that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women,” Kutzer says. “I would urge them to be proactive and to pay attention to the signals their body is sending them. Women in their 30s and 40s don't think heart disease can happen to them. I was 48, and it happened to me.”

It changed in one day. Hours after a standard stress test and no symptoms, she received a life-altering call.

“They told me, ‘Melinda, a significant portion of your heart isn't getting enough blood,' ” Kutzer says.

A stent had to be placed in the left anterior descending artery in her heart because of an almost 70-percent blockage.

“Getting that stent did save my life,” she says. “Had I not been proactive … who knows what might have happened? Heart disease kills one in three women, and I am determined that it won't kill me. I take my medication every day and will continue to take it forever. I am happy to share my story. If it helps just one woman, then it will have been worth it. Women are always so busy that they often don't take time for themselves.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.She can be reached at 412-320-7889 or

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