“If you see me, you’d never think I was the face of heart disease,” says Amanda Daniels, who’s 36, thin and fit.

A wake-up call

The married mother of two is grateful to share her heart story to help others. While Daniels was diagnosed at age 18 with an irregular heartbeat, she lived her life without much worry.  Then at 25, her heart got worse. The diagnosis was cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle.

“My entire life kind of changed at that moment,” says Daniels who had to stop living such an active life including teaching spin classes, which she loved.

A new beginning

At its worst, her heart only was only 30 percent healthy. Nowadays it’s 50 percent and Daniels is making her health a priority. She goes to her cardiologist regularly and takes beta blockers and ACE inhibitors every day, medication she’ll take forever. “It’ll be my life journey,” she says, explaining her heart condition is in “maintenance.”

As a spokesperson for the American Heart Association and a WomenHeart Champion, Daniels speaks about heart disease, which affects 43 million women and is the number one killer of women.

“Be your own advocate and listen to your body,” she says. “Ask for several opinions. It’s important to follow your instincts and listen to your heart.”

The disease “doesn’t discriminate,” says Daniels, explaining women of all ages, weights, body types and lifestyles can be affected. She wants women to know the symptoms of heart disease, which can include shortness of breath, lightheadedness, upper back pressure, fainting and fatigue. Consult a doctor and get other encouragement too.

Helping women

“It’s important for women to know support groups are out there,” says Daniels who’s the co-founder of the Los Angeles heart health support group WomenHeart of West L.A., which meets once a month. “Reach out and connect with other women.”

Support groups can have a positive effect. A recent survey of WomenHeart attendees found 93 percent say they have an enhanced quality of life and increased understanding of heart disease because of their participation in a support group.

Daniels encourages women to live healthy by eating right and exercising. Despite her diagnosis, she’s making the most of life, saying: “I’m going to be here a long time.”

Ten years after her cardiomyopathy diagnosis, Daniels went to a SoulCycle class. “I got back on the spin bike and it was amazing!” she says. “I’m stronger now than I’ve ever been.”