Artangela Henry has been named a Woman of Impact in the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign. She will use her influence to help women understand the peril of cardiovascular disease, the No. 1 cause of death among women in the United States. (Courtesy photo)

Longtime nurse practitioner and health advocate, Artangela Henry, has been named a Woman of Impact in the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign. 

She will use her influence to help women understand the peril of cardiovascular disease, the No. 1 cause of death among women in the United States. 

“Women wear many different hats and, in the process, we tend to focus on the needs of others and put ourselves on the back burner,” said Henry, assistant professor in the UTHSC College of Nursing and an expert in disease processes, particularly sickle cell disease. A two-time alumna of the College of Nursing, she joined the faculty in 2021. 

“What a lot of people don’t understand is that sickle cell is a complex disease process. It literally affects every single organ in the body, including the heart.”

One of the subtleties women often miss is the level of stress in their lives, she said.  

“Having a life of increased stressors can actually increase blood pressure, which causes hypertension. That stress and elevated blood pressure puts strain on the heart, and it has to work harder to pump blood to the rest of our bodies,” Henry said. 

Cardiovascular disease is responsible for one of every three deaths among women. More than half are preventable. To get the message out, AHA started the Go Red for Women campaign in 2004. 

In 2021, it named Women of Impact in every region of the country to promote the message. 

The names of the 20 Women of Impact in the Midsouth will be announced Friday, Feb. 4, National Wear Red Day. 

“We are trying to reach women at a younger age to make lifestyle changes,” said Kate Staggs, director of Go Red for Women for the American Heart Association of the Mid-South/West Tennessee. 

“Dr. Henry is fabulous. I think she will be hugely impactful.” 

Henry plans to promote social media campaigns to help people do simple things to increase physical activity, including a jump rope challenge. 

“If you don’t have a jump rope, you can do jumping jacks,” Henry said. 

She also will promote walking, journaling, and drinking more water to improve quality of life. 

“Sometimes, we emphasize the big things, but it’s really the simple things that bring the most positive impact.” 

Friday also kicks off personal fundraising each Woman of Impact will be conducting for the AHA. It will run through April 7, World Health Day. 

Last year, the Women of Impact raised more than $65,000 to fight for heart health in the Mid-South. Nationally, the group raised more than $1 million. 

Henry is designing her messages to target healthcare professionals, women and the audiences in her sickle cell talks. 

“I’m passionate about sickle-cell education because it is a complex disease that causes many complications and affects predominantly those of African descent, an underserved population in health care. I want to be a beacon of light that brings impact, support, empowerment and elevates this disease.” 

In June 2021, Henry was part of a team in the UTHSC College of Nursing that received $50,000 from Global Blood Therapeutics to create a five-day boot camp course to help nurses improve quality of care for sickle cell patients. The course will be offered through the College of Nursing.