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Attacking Heart Disease 

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Author Jennie E. Johnson, RN-BC, PhD
  • Author Jennie E. Johnson, RN-BC, PhD

Jennie Johnson's father died of a massive heart attack in 1977. He was only 46 years old. Today Johnson, who has a Ph.D. in nursing and is certified in cardiology, hopes to help others avoid his fate with her new book, Wake Up Call 911: It's Time to Reduce Your Risk for a Heart Attack and Stroke. She also is the co-owner, with her husband, of Living for Healthy Heart, a consulting firm in Coeur d'Alene.

Can you talk a little about the alarmist title of your book?

The message is this is a wake-up call to start thinking of behaviors that are harming your health. Most of heart disease and stroke is preventable, yet Americans who are at risk are in great denial about it... The goal is to raise awareness of the problem and give people hope.

There are lots of books on preventing heart attacks. Why did you feel like another one was needed?

A nurse's voice needs to be out there... Nurses have a lot of wisdom, but we don't usually write the books, cardiologists do... When I went back to school and was doing my Ph.D. research in 2012, it all came together.

Who is this book aimed at?

The book is for middle-age people — anyone at risk for heart disease. Pretty much everyone in the United States. But it's also for health care providers. We keep making the same mistakes over and over in health care by providing patients with the same lifestyle prescription. Too often patients sit in their cardiologist's office listening. They nod their head and maybe keep up with an unrealistic health program for a few days, but then ultimately fail.

You've combined easy-to-understand medical terminology with psychology to help people make lifestyle changes. Why integrate psychology?

The book discusses heart attack and stroke risk factors, then examines why certain behaviors are problematic. Treatment options and the medical piece are addressed, but then I share the latest information from psychology to truly examine what works, what helps people make lasting changes. You might be surprised at what works. It's all about baby steps.

Wake Up Call 911, now available online at, will be available in print starting June 16.

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