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Mother Of Olympic Champion Michael Phelps Joins Battle Against Heart Disease

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — She’s the mother of an Olympic champion who’s found time to focus on her health. Debbie Phelps is joining the battle against a silent killer of women.

As Gigi Barnett explains, she says it all starts with a 60-minute checkup.

For a mother of three active adult athletes, this doctor’s visit is some “me” time for Debbie Phelps. It’s a checkup designed to keep her heart healthy.

“All the years that I took care of my children I didn’t take care of myself the way I should have,” Phelps said. “And I thought I need to take a step forward and to be able to take a look at me.”

And one of her children is Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time.

But now, it’s his mother’s turn to take a challenge posed by St. Agnes Hospital: to put her heart to the test and learn more about heart disease–the number one killer of women.

“These are things that I put on the back-burner. Do I exercise everyday? No, I don’t,” she said.

St. Agnes cardiologist Dr. Shannon Winakur says most women are like Phelps. They don’t take time to focus on themselves.

And that’s part of the dangers of heart disease. Winakur says most women don’t know they have it until a heart attack or stroke occurs. That’s why it’s called the silent killer.

“You have to put yourself on that priority list and the sooner you can do it the better,” Winakur said.

And not taking care of their health can cost thousands of women. Compare it to breast cancer, which kills 40,000 women every year. Heart disease kills 200,000 women in the same time frame.

“We want to be around for a good long time, at least I do as a mom,” Phelps said.

One suggestion from doctors for a healthy heart is exercising more. Phelps says her son Michael offered to become her personal trainer. She kindly turned him down. She says his workout routines are just brutal.

St. Agnes doctors say they want to make the screening as easy and affordable as possible. The 60-minute checkup costs $60.

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