SAN ANTONIO -

A national group that already exists in major cities around the country is now planting roots here in San Antonio in a first-of-its-kind organization for women concerned about heart disease.

WomenHeart of San Antonio Support Group will meet for the first time Thursday, then continue the last Thursday of each month from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Methodist Stone Oak Hospital.

The founders of the group in San Antonio are both heart survivors who are proof that women should be paying attention to their heart health.

Salina Rivera was 29 when she went into heart failure and like many women, was initially misdiagnosed as anxious.

Within a month, however, a doctor realized what they were dealing with.

"I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and I was told I had a month to live," she said.

She got in line for a heart transplant and then a pacemaker device called a left ventricle assistance device, or LVAD, was installed in her chest.

It’s what kept her alive while she waited for the transplant. She ended up not needing it.

"With the LVAD and with faith, my heart healed and recovered and now I am here with my own heart, without an LVAD and without a transplant," said Rivera.

She now considers it her mission to help women get educated about their hearts, and with the support of her cardiologist, Dr. Roberta Bogaev, she is outspoken about the need for women to band together in support.

Bogaev says doctors are finally starting to realize given the high prevalence of heart disease in women and that there is a real lack of diagnostic expertise and clinical trial information.

She says even the symptoms are different.

"I've had women where it's as subtle as difficulty in opening their mouth. It doesn't have to be crushing chest pain. It doesn't have to be child labor pain. It can be a relatively mild pain but significant enough to get a woman's attention. "

It’s information like that which could make a difference in the life or death of a patient, and it is some of the information that will be made available to women at risk for heart disease at the WomenHeart Support meeting.

It will be held at Methodist Stone Oak Hospital at 1139 E. Sonterra Blvd., Classroom One, on the last Thursday of each month, from 6 p.m. to 7p.m.

You may contact cfreemanlovemuchj@gmail.com for more information.