Stroke survivor uses experience to promote heart health for Black women

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Ashanti Coleman is a nurse practitioner and a two-time stroke survivor.

Despite being high risk, she stepped up to help administer Covid-19 tests at Tiger Lane in Memphis.

“That’s what I signed up for,” Coleman said.

“I signed up to be a healthcare professional, provider and to be a leader in the community and I take that whole heartily.”

Coleman had her first stroke in November of 2017.

She said she had the classic textbook symptoms: headaches, slurred speech, and numbness on one side of her body.

Doctors told her birth control pills were the cause of the stroke.

“At that time, both me and my husband had just lost jobs, so it was a stressful time in addition to just everyday life that was going on,” Coleman said.

“When that incident happened, I was kind of in denial with being a healthcare provider and knowing the symptoms.”

Just a year and a half later, she had a second stroke in May of 2019.

“Anxiety had set in,” Coleman said.

“I’m thinking, this can’t be happening again.”

Heart disease is the number one killer of women, causing one in three deaths each year.

According to the American Heart Association, nearly 80-percent of cardiac events can be prevented, but heart disease continues to be a woman’s greatest threat.

Heart disease disproportionally affects African Americans, with nearly 50,000 Black women dying annually.

“I know personally, I could say stress levels are higher because we have a lot more going on,” Coleman explained.

“We had stress levels like for instance last year we had the pandemic, social injustices, we had the election. You know all of those things in addition to everyday life.”

Today, Coleman continues to make both her physical and mental health her top priorities.

She recently completed her doctorate at the University of Memphis and is in the process of publishing her own research on Black women and cardiovascular disease.

FOX13′s Lauren Coleman asks, “You’ve been through a lot and you’ve been able to accomplish so much. What keeps you strong? What keeps you going?”

“I’m a go-getter,” Ashanti Coleman replied.

“I’m a hustler. I stay on the go doing things and just keep moving. I try not to let things get me down.”

Ashanti Coleman used her own experiences as inspiration to research stroke prevention for African American women who have used or currently use oral contraceptives.