Women from all walks of life gathered to learn more about heart disease, and the new treatments available, all while celebrating each other and raising money for the American Heart Association.

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center hosts Red Dress Luncheon

Event promotes community awareness on heart issues affecting women.

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Amid a sea of red, women from all walks of life gathered to listen, raise awareness and raise money for the American Heart Association.

On Wednesday, February 28, in front of a capacity audience, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center and Sentara Heart & Vascular Center hosted the annual Red Dress Luncheon to support the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign.

“This is an amazing event for women in our community. It’s informative, it’s interesting and it’s fun,” says Kathie Johnson, President, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

Johnson, served as the event’s emcee at Matchbox Restaurant in Woodbridge, Virginia.

Among the messages for the women: make your health a priority, know your risk factors, and know heart attack symptoms.

According to the American Heart Association, some of those symptoms for women include:

• Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
• Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
• Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
• Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
• As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

“Women, because they have so many responsibilities, tend to neglect themselves,” explains Medical Director of Electrophysiology at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, Dr. Aysha Arshad, “By the time women patients show up for care, their disease and prognosis are much worse compared to men.”

Survivor and keynote speaker, Katherine Hazemey was just 38 years old when she suffered her heart attack.

Since that time, Hazamey has changed her life and changed her habits. Even though she works long hours, she now gets up at three in the morning to make sure she has time for exercise.

It was that piece of the puzzle, Leslianne Grendysz, NP, shared with the crowd, it’s never too late to make changes in your life to benefit your heart with healthy habits.

“It’s important to take charge of your life and that means taking charge of your health,” Grendysz explained to the crowd, “Know your risk factors. Some factors like heredity, our race, our sex – we have no control over. But, we do have control over our diet, activity level and deciding whether we smoke or drink. Changing some of our habits can make all the difference in the world.”

Some of those habits include:
• Get active
• Control cholesterol
• Eat better
• Manage blood pressure
• Maintain a healthy weight/BMI
• Reduce blood sugar
• Stop smoking

To learn just how healthy your heart is, log onto Sentara’s 28daysofheart.com to learn more about risk factors, healthy tips & recipes and discover what your heart’s age is, the answer might surprise you.