Family history of heart disease inspired her to make a difference.
Heart disease was always a part of Ruth Rohs’ life.
Her maternal grandmother had open heart surgery. Her mother and father had heart bypass surgery on the same day when Ruth was 10 years old.
But it wasn’t until she was 36 that Ruth started to pay attention to her heart health. During her mother’s Christmas visit that year, she had a heart attack at Ruth’s house.
“It’s been a lifetime of watching and being a part of it,” Ruth said. “It was a wake-up call. Before, I felt like I was young enough to change course.”
Sadly, Ruth’s mom passed away in October 2020 from congestive heart failure.
Knowing her family history, one of Ruth’s good friends who was a long time supporter of the American Heart Association in Denver nominated Ruth as a Woman of Impact. Although her mom had volunteered with the Heart Ball in her hometown of Lake Charles, Louisiana, it was Ruth’s first time to get involved with the AHA.
Ruth built her impact team of more than 20 active participants including childhood friends, her sisters, colleagues and sorority sisters.
As Ruth shared her story, others shared their experiences with heart disease.
“In the beginning, on the initial team call, I cried,” she said. “People were sharing their stories. I didn’t know how heart disease affected them.”
Her experience increased her awareness of the impact of heart disease on women. Ruth and her mom survived breast cancer — making the disease a bigger concern for her. But through her work with the American Heart Association, her perspective changed.
“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women,” Ruth said. “It is a scary statistic. It’s worse than the breast cancer statistic. The ridiculous thing is that it’s mostly preventable.”
That awareness, coupled with her history, has helped her instill heart-healthy lifestyle habits in her two children.
“I want them to see it in action,” Ruth said. “Exercise is a huge thing. Modeling is the way to go. It’s a daily routine to stay heart healthy.”
Ruth encourages future Women of Impact nominees to stay true to their experiences.
“You have to be passionate for the cause,” she said. “Having a story is the key. Don’t underestimate what you can achieve.”