For 16 years, Kristine Thompson has been a champion for heart health as a member of the Phoenix Heart Ball committee. This year, as the ball celebrates its 60th year of raising funds to advance the lifesaving mission of the American Heart Association, she embraces her newest role: chair of the Phoenix Heart Ball.
For Kristine, the mission of raising funds for the Heart Ball Campaign and celebrating the life-saving work at the Heart Ball is a mission that’s, well, close to her own heart.
“Our whole family is affected by heart disease,” she explains. “My mom’s dad had one of the earliest triple bypasses here in Phoenix, from Dr. Diethrich. I was maybe 6 when that surgery took place. So, from a young age, I was aware of heart disease. And, the older I get, the more important it becomes to me.”
In fact, heart disease and stroke have now affected other members of Kristine’s family—including her husband, who was unexpectedly diagnosed when he was just 40—as well as numerous friends.
“One of my themes this year is ‘Know Your Numbers’ because heart disease doesn’t look the same for everyone. People often have an image of what a person struggling with heart disease looks like, but you don’t have to be overweight and you don’t have to be a smoker. I think that’s what’s so surprising to me as I get older.”
Kristine hopes that by encouraging people to know their numbers—such as cholesterol, blood pressure, weight and blood sugar—they can live their best and healthiest life by getting ahead of heart disease and stroke.
While some aspects of heart disease are genetic, for most, that is not the case.
“Eighty percent of heart disease is preventable, so there’s a lot people can do to get ahead of it so it doesn’t happen. Once you have it, the only thing you can do is manage it,” Kristine says.
She encourages people to watch their diet and to exercise, in addition to staying on top of their numbers.
When Kristine isn’t busy planning the Heart Ball (her mom, Sandy Magruder, is also a longtime member of the committee and a past chair!) and its related events, she loves to both cook and entertain. She also loves to ski and play the drums.
The Phoenix Heart Ball is Nov. 23, 2019, at The Phoenician.