Protect Your Heart

By Shelley Hill Young 

When Quinn Gaines’ father had a massive stroke seven years ago, she says it was a wake-up call for her entire family.  

“It’s affected us 10-fold in the way that we carried out of lives ever since,” she says. 

Quinn serves as an ambassador for the Charleston chapter of the American Heart Association and encourages others to make healthy choices to help reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke. She is being recognized for her work this month at the Heart Association’s Go Red for Women luncheon.  

She says her father worked long hours in an industrial job.  

“After so many years, it becomes second nature to stop taking care of yourself and start going with the flow,” Quinn says.

She says her family is lucky that her mother recognized the signs that her father was having a stroke and called 911 immediately. They are thankful her father survived, though his quality of life has changed significantly because the stroke affected his ability to speak. 

Quinn, who is 30, says she led a healthy lifestyle, but after her father’s stroke, she reaffirmed her commitment to eating healthy and being active. 

“The older I’ve gotten and the heavier into my career in I’ve gotten, I can see how easy that is to slip,” Quinn says. “It’s so easy for that portion of your life to become the lowest part of the totem. I will never allow that part of my life to be last.” 

So, when Quinn has to go to the grocery store and to the gym, she rides her bike to get in the extra activity. 

“Those extra steps that we can take to keep moving every day and stay active are really important,” Quinn says. 

She encourages others to consider what small choices and changes they can make each week rather than setting large, unrealistic goals that might be scary. 

Just because you’re young, you’re not immune, Quinn says. Know your familial risks and make lifestyle changes now. 

“Once you figure it out, it might be too late. You don’t want to be on that medication,” Quinn says. “You want to make those life-changing choices now.” 

About Go Red for Women
Go Red For Women is the American Heart Association’s national movement to end heart disease and stroke in women and encourage women to take charge of their health. Cardiovascular diseases kill more women than all forms of cancer combined, but 80% of cardiac events in women may be prevented if women made the right choices for their hearts by eating healthy, getting exercise and not smoking. 

Do you know your numbers?
The five numbers every woman should know to determine their risk for heart disease:
1. Total cholesterol
2. HDL (good) cholesterol
3. Blood pressure
4. Blood sugar
5. Body Mass Index  

If you go:
Charleston’s Go Red For Women Luncheon is May 23 at the Hotel Bennett. To purchase tickets, visit