story and photos by April Robertson
Roughly 1,500 women donned their best red and banded together Tuesday to get updated on the warning signs of heart disease and best practices for heart health.
The 10th Anniversary Go RED for Women Event took place at the John Q. Hammons Center Tuesday (Feb. 12), featuring speaker ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, a live auction, performances by models and a dance troupe, a health expo and luncheon.
“330 fewer women are dying every day because of AHA (American Heart Association),” said Nancy Mueller, co-chair for the Go Red for Women Event. “This is something done for women by women. We have the power to save lives.”
Mueller had a couple of family members die as a result of heart disease, but thanks to awareness and diligent checkups, her brother was diagnosed early enough that he went on to graduate college and lead a normal life.
Dan McKay spoke at the luncheon and encouraged audience members to take a risk assessment, which could add years to your life.
Audie Renee, a radio personality for KIX 104, was a central speaker. She shared her experience of being a 27 year-old survivor of stroke and heart trouble.
“I was talking to my mom and my mouth was not doing what I wanted it to,” Renee said. “She said ‘it sounds like you’re having a stroke’ and told me to hang up, take some aspirin and call 911. On the way back into the station, I was stopped to talk about (radio) promotions and what I was trying to say didn’t match up (with what was coming out).”
Renee had a hole in her heart, between two atriums, where fluids would mix as a result. The defect is common: one in four people can have it.
Dr. Michael Green explained the trouble with detecting heart disease in women.
“Women don’t have classic symptoms of cardiovascular disease,” he said. “If you’re not feeling up to what you were six months ago, go in for a checkup.”
Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN sports analyst, was the featured guest of the event.
“I’ve never shared this story,” he said. “At the age of thirty … I went in for a stress test and failed it.”
After a long series of tests, Herbstreit was told he had cardiomyopathy, which means a ventricle of his heart is enlarged.
“They told me to stop lifting weights, to do more cardio for exercise and to eat better,” he said, explaining how his lifestyle has changed since that stress test. “We all have these ideas that heart disease happens to people who are 70, 80 years old,” he said, emphasizing that it is nothing like we think.
Ladies had the chance to walk through a Health Expo, where they spoke to vendors and sponsors such as Ocean Spray, Oikos, Special K, Masons and clinics like Dermatology and Mammology to discuss appropriate times to get checkups, how to perform self-exams and which products are health conscious and tasty.
Lisa Nims, of 3D Mammology, was there to educate women on the proper way to perform a breast self-exam. She felt it was important to be there because not everyone- and not even all doctor’s offices- are conscious about the prevalence of breast cancer.
“I once went into the doctor and they didn’t even check for (lumps in the breast,)” she said. To be aware of your state of health, “it really has to be combination of mammogram, annual exam and self-exams.”
The event included a live auction of glitter clutches, a Purse-onality Auction and gave attendees the chance to donate to the American Heart Association, which has helped more than 620,000 lives.
Walmart Executive Celia Swanson and Scott Salmon of Kellogg’s were announced as the co-chairs for the 2014 Go Red for Women Event.