A red sea surge

I don’t usually wear nail polish, but today I got my nails painted red.

After all, I was one of just a few women among hundreds who were not wearing red. We were bobbing along in the Red Sea. Since it was my first time at the American Heart Association Go Red for Women luncheon in Albany, I didn’t know the dress code. Fortunately, there was a booth from a local salon and they were painting people’s nails. We had our choice of three colors — red, really red, or sparkly red. Go figure.

Campaign chair Maria Mazzone Decker said it was the largest luncheon ever , with 500 people.  Some were men — wearing red ties. NYSUT is one of the sponsors of the event, an AHA fundraiser to continue research into heart disease, the number one killer of women.

Aside from the Code Red dress memo, there were a lot of other things I didn’t know about –like how heart disease and heart conditions affect women so much differently than men; and about some healthy lifestyle changes that can be made.

Women gave testimonials about how they had lost family members, or nearly died themselves, from undiagnosed heart conditions. Many with heart conditions are misdiagnosed, such as Mary Hart, who was told she had asthma, colds and other maladies when she kept reporting coughing, fatigue, and a pressure she felt every time she bent over. When she finally insisted on a chest x-ray, it was discovered her heart was operating at 10 percent and her lungs were filled with fluid.  She would have been dead with several more days, she told a hushed crowd at the AHA luncheon. After 10 days in the hospital and six months out of work, she said she is back to 40 percent capacity of her heart and on a lot of medication.

A few children spoke about their experiences, too. One of the key themes was for women to get educated. Other suggestions: get checkups, learn CPR, watch your weight, quit smoking, check your blood pressure and cholesterol.

Keynote speaker Dr. Andalib Nawab, medical director of the new Women and Heart Disease Program at Bellevue /Ellis Medicine Women’s Center,  said women are less likely to receive appropriate treatment after a heart attack.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Heart Association, report that almost two-thirds of the women who die from coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.

So, in addition to getting my nails painted red, I also donated some green. When I got to the office I made an appointment for a cardiac screening. Please take the time to make one for yourself.

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