STUDIO CITY (CBS) — Alisa Becket and Amanda Daniels recently became “WomenHeart” Champions after graduating from the prestigious annual WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium at Mayo Clinic.

They stopped by KCAL9 Friday to talk about the importance of heart health.

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Becket and Daniels are one of 46 women from around the country – all heart disease survivors, ages 33 to 77 – who were selected from a nationally competitive application process to attend the three day symposium and return home as leaders to educate, advocate, and support their community on the issue of women and heart disease – the nation’s leading cause of death for women.

WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is the nation’s leading organization representing the 42 million women living with or at risk for heart disease.

By becoming national volunteers WomenHeart Champions, Becket and Daniels become two of 568 inspirational women from across the country to be honored with the WomenHeart Champion title.

To join or donate, click here.

Listen to your Heart: Amanda Daniels’s Story

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My battle with heart disease started when I was a senior in high school. I went in to get my wisdom teeth pulled. It was routine, but my teeth were impacted so they had to hook me up to an EKG monitor and put me under. As I was waking from the anesthesia they were yelling that something was the matter with my heart. “Get her mother in here right away,” they yelled. I looked over at the EKG monitor and all of a sudden it went dead. They had disconnected the monitor, but I didn’t know that. I barely remember this part, because I think it was so traumatic but my mom said I screamed at the top of my lungs, “I flat lined, I’m dead, help me.” My mom rushed me over to see my grandmother’s cardiologist. He immediately evaluated me and determined that I just had irregular heartbeats or an arrhythmia.

I was getting ready to leave for college. We asked my doctor if I needed to stay close by and change my plans. Fortunately, everything was fine. But deep down I always knew there was something else going on with me. College was great except for the occasional run in with the university health center. One day I went in for a twisted ankle and walked out in tears with my EKG strip. After taking my pulse, the nurse insisted that I needed to get an EKG right away and a consult with a cardiologist. “After all, you don’t want to drop dead after you leave here,” she said. Gotta love her bedside manner. I made it through 4 years of college and really lived like any normal student, refusing to believe that I had to change my lifestyle completely for my “hiccupping heart” as my cardiologist called it.

After graduation I came home to LA, got a master’s in broadcast journalism was teaching spin aerobics and wham… My entire life changed with one simple sentence. “You have cardiomyopathy, otherwise known as heart failure,” my doctor said. I looked around at my mother. She could barely look at me. My father got up and walked out of the room to gather his emotions and thoughts. The memory is so intense that I can’t help myself, I’m crying as I write this entry. My mom and I took the entire day together just hanging out. I looked around and was shocked. How could everyone go about the day like everything’s normal when my entire world shattered?

I remember worrying about how I was going to tell my boyfriend (now husband) at the time. Why would he stay together with a 25 year-old woman with heart failure? Talk about baggage. But he stood by my side literally through thick and thin. The next several years were trying. I was told I could never bear children; I was put on beta-blockers and ace inhibitors. I couldn’t take my heart rate over 120, no drinking, no salt… Then I wasn’t improving. My arrhythmia was so bad that the lab technician couldn’t even read my Echocardiogram. Then I was put on another medication to regulate my irregular heartbeats. Talk about a nightmare! I’m a California beach girl. So when my doctor said a side affect of the medication is intolerance to the sun, I was broken. That’s when I really became my own advocate. I learned about a cardiac ablation, which is typically used to treat tachycardia. I met with several doctors. On July 19th, 2004 I had a cardiac ablation. Exactly one month later, August 21st, I walked down the aisle and celebrated the most amazing wedding ever.

Today, I’m a healthy 33 year-old. Yes, I’m still living with heart disease. I take my beta-blockers and ace inhibitors daily and fish oil to help avoid sudden cardiac arrest. But I’m a survivor. I defied the odds. Over 50% of patients with cardiomyopathy find out they have the disease because they suffer cardiac arrest. Of those 50% only 10% survive. There’s only 30% chance of improving from the condition and I’ve improved twice! First when I was 25 and then again after the birth of my first child.

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I survived for a reason. I am adamant about bringing awareness to the number one killer of women, which is why I am excited about starting a WomenHeart support group at UCLA with my fellow Heart Sister Alisa Becket. I currently live in Santa Monica, California with my husband of 7 years and my two young daughters Sophie (4 years) and Olivia (18 months).