(WHTM)– It’s UPMC’s annual reunion for former heart and vascular institute patients, people who no are longer dealing with this issue.

“I have a completely new lease on life and in a position where you know when I do something that I haven’t done in 10 years. There’s a moment where I’m like I should send him a thank you card,” former UPMC Patient Misty Simon said.

This event is a way to connect UPMC patients with others who share the same diagnosis and with their primary care teams while learning about the importance of staying healthy, post-heart surgery.

“I think having the willingness to be responsible for your health I think is very critical. If I know there is something up, I should investigate. I think we forget to spend time on our care than some of the other extremist activities that happen to surround us,” UPMC Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. A Reza Abrishamchian said.

And Misty Simon, who was first diagnosed at 43 years old, was happy to connect with the people who saved her life.

“I think when paying attention to your health and having doctors that are also paying attention you are not a number within you UPMC. You come in they do know you, and knowing the patient being able to speak to the primary care physician it makes a huge difference,” Simon said.

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death, for men and women in the us, but the first step towards preventing this is connecting with your doctor.

“To be able to get a grip of it it’s very helpful for us to start by knowing the patient themselves and also being involved with their primary care provider where they can be helped and getting the risk assessment to see what they alternately will need to know more about themselves and to prevent heart disease,” Abrishamchian said.