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Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

River Valley 'Go Red for Women' event goes digital amid pandemic

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease and strokes claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined. It impacts 1 out of every 3 women.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — The American Heart Association of Arkansas held its annual River Valley Go Red luncheon Thursday (Oct. 22) afternoon.

The event was completely virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease and strokes claim more lives than all cancer forms combined.

Heart disease impacts one out of every three women.

“We are investing our research dollars in the search for answers, fast-tracking a special $2.9 million fund for rapid response scientific research projects to investigate the specific cardiovascular implications of COVID-19," Dawn Watts, Go Red for Women Chair, said.

This year attendees heard inspiring stories from fearless survivors, including keynote speaker Danyelle Musselman.

“I share my personal story because when I tell people it’s something that’s scary and no one has ever really heard of. I want people to know of it and to be aware and just remember to advocate for your health," Musselman said.

Not only is Danyelle a stroke survivor herself, but her father passed away after a heart attack.

Danyelle’s sister suffered congestive heart failure and needed a heart transplant.

“I think it was really hard for my sister to believe that that was what the actual diagnosis was and getting a new heart is a process. It’s not like getting a new car or a new house," Musselman said.

It’s been one year since her sister’s surgery.

The experience inspired her to speak up and speak out for women and men in the fight against heart disease.

“Do not be afraid to seek answers. Do not be afraid to ask questions, and do not be afraid to speak up for yourself and those that you love," Musselman said.

The Go Red for Women digital experience is sponsored by CVS Health, Baptist Health Fort Smith, Encompass Health of Fort Smith, Mercy, and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

5NEWS is one of several proud media sponsors of the event.

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