Julie Taylor, Go Red for Women Conference and Luncheon Chair and heart disease survivor
Julie Taylor is the Chief Executive Officer of Alaska Regional Hospital and proud chair of the 2020 Go Red for Women Conference and Luncheon. The volunteer position blends both her experience as a health care leader and her medical knowledge gained through nursing. In addition, Julie is also a heart disease survivor living with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) after being diagnosed as an adolescent. Arrythmias run in her family and both her mother and sister are affected. Her own story, as well as her background in the medical field, tap into her passion for sharing with the community the steps they can take to prevent or lessen the impact of heart disease in their life. Julie shares, “I want women to understand the simple things they can, and should, do to improve their overall health. I have had a front row seat to the damage caused by poor health management decisions and know many people who could have had a better outcome had they switched even a few things. It’s really that important.”
Amber Brophy, heart disease survivor
As a teen and young adult, Amber Brophy, would experience periods of a rapid heartbeat but it would self-correct, so she didn't think much about it.When Amber became pregnant with twins in 2011, the periods of rapid heartbeat increased to the point she'd occasionally pass out. She wore a heart monitor, but it didn't capture any specific issues. Then, one day at work in 2015, Amber suddenly felt a "clunk" in her chest and thought she was experiencing a heart attack. Her co-workers called 911 and she was later diagnosed with Atrial or Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). Amber has undergone two procedures to address her heart rhythm and today is doing well, but her SVT still impacts her life. Amber shares, “My advice to others is to live life with purpose. As women we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to take care of everything, but when you’re confronted with something like this, it changes your perspective. Enjoy the time you have here and take steps to positively impact your health to give you more time.”
April Rodriguez, MD
Dr. April Rodriguez is a managing partner of Alyeska Vascular Surgery as well as the Medical Director for the Vascular Lab. April loves the outdoors and enjoys hiking and skiing to keep her own heart healthy. She is proud to be a 2020 Go Red for Women ambassador to help spread awareness about heart disease, especially to younger women. She shares, “I would love for women to be informed about heart disease at an earlier age so they can catch things before they become a problem. Up to 80% of heart disease and stroke may be prevented and there’s lots of small things we all can do to maintain a healthier heart.
Kasha Smith-Poynter, advocate
After her father’s stroke in 2012, Kasha Smith-Poynter made the decision to get her life back on track with the goal of starting a family. Through that decision, significant lifestyle adjustments needed to be made and Kasha decided to reconnect with her passion of dancing to keep herself moving at least once a day for 30 minutes. The results were incredible, a loss of 134 pounds and is a principle dancer and instructor with Sankofa Dance Theatre Alaska. Today Kasha is a proud Go Red for Women ambassador and shares her journey to inspire others. “My father survived his stroke and today he’s here to play with his grandkids. I made changes to improve my own health and gain the gift of time with my family and someday, grandkids.”
Nancy Kragt, DO
Dr Nancy Kragt is an emergency medicine physician and Department Chair at Alaska Regional Hospital. Through her work she encounters many women in our community who are experiencing heart attack or stroke emergencies. Dr Kragt is very aware that women with cardiovascular disease often have atypical symptoms and it's critical that the medical community, and the community at large, are aware so that women receive time sensitive and appropriate care. Dr Kragt also shares, "Much of what we know about heart disease and stroke is known through research conducted on men. The Go Red for Women movement is working to address this disparity and increase our understanding of heart disease in women.” In her free time she enjoys skiing, hiking, the Alaska outdoors, and spending time with her husband and two daughters. She also derives great joy from her mission work at Pothawira clinic in Malawi, Africa.
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