Going red for women's heart health

Learn how one Raymond James leader turned a health scare into a lifelong charitable initiative.

Raymond James associates and Tampa Bay community members wear red and hold "Go Red" and "Honk if you love your heart" signs 

Cardiovascular disease kills approximately one woman every 80 seconds in the U.S. The good news is, 80% of cardiac events may be prevented with education and lifestyle changes. 

For Raymond James Bank Executive Vice President and Chief Operating & Strategy Officer Amanda Stevens, Go Red for Women – the American Heart Association’s signature women’s initiative – is personal. 

A charitable passion ignited

Amanda StevensAmanda first joined the Executive Cabinet of the Tampa Bay division of Go Red for Women in 2016. The organization’s mission aligned well with her interest in health and fitness. But in 2018, Amanda was struck by a newfound passion for women’s health when she suffered from a sudden stroke. As an avid runner committed to wellness, she never worried much about her own health.

“At first I thought I was fine – that I just wasn’t feeling well,” Amanda said. “But then 30 minutes later, I still couldn’t really see, feel or walk straight. Upon my daughter’s assistance, we went to the hospital, where doctors were able to diagnose a stroke and treat it with blood thinners.”

After a few days, Amanda made a full recovery and was discharged from the hospital, but not all stroke victims are so fortunate. That’s why Amanda became even more committed to dedicating her charitable efforts toward research and education around cardiovascular disease in women.

“I was very lucky that my daughter recognized the symptoms and the hospital did all the necessary tests to diagnose and treat me,” Amanda said. “This can happen to anybody, so education is extremely important.”

It wasn’t until more than four years later that Amanda uncovered the reason behind her stroke. Perhaps not coincidentally, the American Heart Association ultimately facilitated her discovery of a pre-existing heart condition.

“I was sharing my story at a Heart Association event when one of Tampa Bay’s top pediatric cardiologists pulled me aside,” Amanda said. “I went to see him a few days later and was diagnosed with patent foraman ovale (PFO), a grade 3 hole in my heart that can cause blood clots and eventually strokes.”

PFO is easy to miss and often goes undiagnosed, but once identified is relatively easy to treat with few or no complications.

“It feels incredible to finally know why this happened, and to be able to address it,” Amanda said. “He will be closing that hole up for me.”

Going red for women

Amanda is now serving as the 2023 Tampa Bay Go Red for Women chair. Her greatest mission is to help fund research to identify what can be done to better prevent strokes and cardiac arrest in women. She also hopes her efforts will ultimately equip more women across the community with tools and resources to evade cardiovascular disease.

“It’s so important for everyone to know their numbers,” Amanda said. “Know your heart rate, cholesterol, blood pressure – so that you can know what you need to improve, and so that if you do experience a health event and need to go to the hospital, you can be ready to tell them what is normal for you and what is not.”

Raymond James associates and advisors across the firm will “go red” for women on National Wear Red Day and throughout Heart Month in February. Learn more at goredforwomen.org

Sources: American Heart Association, Go Red for Women

Raymond James Cares

Together, we make a difference to build, strengthen and grow our communities. To learn more about the firm’s corporate philanthropy, click here.

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