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Ann Nesby

*Now that working class citizens have access to affordable health care, the time has come for African Americans to check, change and control the quality of their lives. This initiative is being carried out by the American Heart Association and its new Metro Atlanta spokesperson Ann Nesby.

The Grammy-award winning singer, and congestive heart failure survivor, was granted a second chance to live. She’s using this opportunity to spread awareness about heart disease in women of color.

In a one-on-one interview with EURweb’s Lee Bailey, Nesby opened up about the new direction of her career and shared her experiences with helping others gain control of their health.

“In 2004, my life changed,” she expressed with unabashed candor. “Ever since the diagnosis, I’ve been making sure to check my blood pressure and cholesterol levels. I’ve have control over my life now: I make regular doctor’s visits and I’m encouraging everyone around me that I love to do the same. I’m excited it about it.”

She added, “I’m always speaking on behalf of The American Heart Association. I’ve been given a platform to change people’s lives. It’s something that affects me and I’m able to share my wisdom along with sharing the gift of music.”

Most experts will suggest eating the foods you love in moderation, rather than giving them up cold turkey. Nesby embraces this concept; she also understands the value of consistency in relation to proper health.

“You can still smell the food and see the food,” she said laughing. “That doesn’t change so you have to change.  It’s easy to fall back onto old habits, especially when you career is travel-based. But you can’t allow circumstance to dictate your actions. You must exercise self-control—the reward is worth sacrificing for.”

“You have to think from an unselfish point of view,” Nesby further explained. “Your life is not your own and there are people who love you if you don’t love yourself who will help you be responsible. If you enjoy your family, your children and your mate, you have to make those adjustments for them if not for yourself.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 67 million Georgians have high blood pressure and many more may be at risk. To combat this issue and reduce a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease, the Metro Atlanta American Heart Association/American Stroke Association launched the Check. Change. Control. program to help residents identify, lower and maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

In May, American Stroke Month and High Blood Pressure Education Month, Nesby was introduced as Atlanta’s spokesperson for the cause through a new PSA. With support from the AHA, along with a renewed sense of purpose, she aims to make a positive impact on the state of health in the black community.

“People are more receptive than we can imagine,” Nesby said in a matter-of-fact tone. “Sometime it takes a spark of someone else mentioning a problem in a relaxed setting to make another person think and reflect on it. Sometimes just a word of encouragement will help you through tough times.”

She continued, “When we get in situations sometimes we feel like were going through it alone. When we can hear other people talk about things openly, even if we’re private people with our lifestyles, we become more receptive to advice about how we can get help or do things a bit differently. We’ve overlooked heart disease in women for too long. It’s time to have a conversation about it.”

In early June, Nesby released a new album “Living My Life,” inspired by her battle with heart failure and the road she took that led to her inspiring recovery.

“I already love to do feel good music,” she said fondly. “I was always of the mind that whatever I sang from my heart would reach the heart of others. This album reflects on relationships, being healthy and not worrying about tomorrow. It also acknowledges that the power of God is able to pull us through any situation and it encourages us to trust him in our daily lives and to rest in him for answers to our problems.”

In addition to her words on the album, Nesby wants to leave this message with women and their loved ones: “Check your heart. Check your blood pressure. Change your lifestyle and get control of it by working with your physician. Prepare yourself for a better life.”

Check out tracks from Ann Nesby’s New “Living My Life” album: