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Suffolk health business owner raising awareness about heart disease in memory of late parents

Kati Johnson.PNG
Posted at 5:38 PM, Feb 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 18:08:44-05

SUFFOLK, Va. - Did you know the normal resting heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute? Did you also know that heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.?

Heart health begins with knowing the risk. February is Heart Disease Awareness Month, and we have a conversation with some passionate advocates who are helping raising awareness.

The folks who run the business One Step Forward Nutrition promote healthy living through food and drinks. It’s all in honor of the owner’s mother, who passed away from heart disease.

“In 1998, I lost my father, and in 2017, I lost my mother,” said heart disease advocate Kati Johnson.

Johnson was left heartbroken due to the fact that she lost both of her parents to heart disease. But the day her mother died, Johnson said it was a normal day.

“In 2017, we went to church. She said she was tired; she wasn't 100% herself. She came home from church, and she just passed away,” Johnson recalled.

That prompted Johnson to now become an advocate of heart health because she didn't see the signs in her mother, Joyce.

“I lost a piece of me when she left,” she said.

According to the American Heart Association, 1 in 3 women will die from cardiovascular disease.

“If you don't know what your cholesterol numbers are; if you don’t know what your family history is, you can actually be sitting right there and be at risk for having a heart attack,” said Dr. Ethlyn McQueen-Gibson, board chair of the American Heart Association.

Health experts say the signs of heart disease are different for women. But, Dr. McQueen-Gibson says everyone should be aware of signs such as numbness, fatigue, dizziness, heartburn and more, no matter your age or gender.

“Heart disease does not discriminate,” Dr. McQueen-Gibson said.

Turning her pain into power, Johnson opened up One Step Forward Nutrition, selling items like protein shakes for a healthy lifestyle.

“I want people to know that being preventive in their life is going to help them, whereas those are things that my parents didn't do,” she said.

Johnson is not stopping there. Friday, she will be lacing up her shoes and organizing a heart walk.

“What my store is going to do is for every person that walks that mile, were going to donate a dollar to the American Heart Association. On top of that, we're going to have a drink named after my mother, Joyce, and it’s going to be red,” Johnson explained.

All the money raised from Friday’s walk will go towards the AHA in memory of Johnson’s mother. The walk starts at 5 p.m.

Related: Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore to hold 3 free events celebrating Healthy Heart Month