Two hearts share the same goal to help others after learning of heart illness

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Heart disease, according to the CDC, is the leading cause of death in the United States

While not all heart-related deaths and diseases are the same, two Kansans say there are preventative steps you can take.

“I should not be having chest pains,” says Brittni Strickland. “I should not be able to not go up a flight of stairs and be completely winded.”

Brittni Strickland was 33 years old when she started feeling something was not right.

“In all honesty, I am probably lucky to be alive especially because I ignored it, and I thought it is just indigestion,” said Bill Rinkenbaugh.

Bill Rinkenbaugh’s 40 years of smoking and lifestyle choices finally caught up to him.

“I told them (family) I am in trouble,” he said. “I leave and get over to the Kansas Heart Hospital. They did a heart catheterization and said you have blockages in five arteries.”

Brittni Strickland’s diagnosis was out of the blue last November.

“He said it sounds like cardiomyopathy and said I hope it is not. When they went to the Mayo Clinic and confirmed it. I was like, ‘oh my gosh,'” says Strickland.

Rinkenbaugh and Strickland’s roads were much different to get to this point in their lives. Rinkenbaugh had to make some serious life changes.

“Number one, I had to quit smoking. What really upset me about that is it was not hard,” he says.

Still, they both share the same passion of not turning back.

“Pay attention to what you eat,” Rinkenbaugh says. “Try and exercise a little bit every.”

“If you got back on track and started working out and exercising and moving and doing those things, you would actually realize you feel better,” Strickland stated.

Brittni and Bill now enjoy time with their families, and they want others to do the same.

“If you feel something is not right, your body is telling you something,” Rinkenbaugh says.

“Listen to your body,” adds Strickland.

Both credit The American Heart Association in Wichita and remain active with the organization. For more important statistics regarding heart health and disease from the AHA just click on this link.

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