(KMSP) - February is American Heart Month and it serves as a very important reminder to watch for warning signs and visit your doctor regularly.
Loralean Jordan is the poster child for paying attention to warning signs when it comes to your heart. At just 36 years old -- she found herself with a life-threatening heart condition.
Jordan survived an aortic aneurysm -- and now she tells her story for the American Heart Association.
“It's actually a weak spot in your aorta wall causes it to bow out and bow in and if it ruptures you can die. One of the surgeons said I was one of the few patients he'd seen alive with this,” Jordan said. “Most of the time they see it on a cadaver in an autopsy.”
Jordan had symptoms for about a year, including shortness of breath, burning in the back area and two different blood pressures in each arm, before doctors were able to figure out what was going on.
“They said it was a weak spot born with it and to fix it was open heart surgery,” Jordan said. “They actually used a little of my heart tissue to clamp over it. I knew something was wrong. I knew I wasn't imagining things."
And so her message is to be persistent, telling people they know their bodies and when they don’t feel well they should go to the doctor.
"You know your body and when you don't feel well, go in," Jordan says.
Her own family history is an important lesson too. Her father is a stroke and heart attack survivor.
So her message is a good one -- know your body. Know your family. Know when to get checked out.
She is 10 years post-surgery -- feeling good and feeling good about another family trait --- longevity.
“My great-great-grandfather lived to be 109,” Jordan said.
Feb. 5 is National Wear Red Day to help raise awareness about heart disease and strokes.