Tuesday, February 01, 2011

2011 Red Dress Award Winners, Raising Awareness of Heart Disease

This article is courtesy of Women's Day

2011 Red Dress Award Winners

Meet the newest recipients of WD’s heart disease-awareness honor:

Hoda Kotb
For the past three years, Kotb has been an ardent AHA supporter. In addition to hosting the Go Red For Women special on NBC, she served as a guest speaker at several Go Red events and has advocated for women’s heart health in her role as coanchor of the fourth hour of the TODAY show.

My wakeup call was... When my dad died of a heart attack at age 53. I don’t live in fear, but it made me more mindful of my own health habits.
My motto is... You have to be selfish in order to be selfless. I exercise every single day. It’s easy to say, “How can I spend one hour on me when other people need me?” But it’s the only way you’ll be around to continue helping other people for a long time to come.

Barbara Walters
One of the best-known names in journalism, ABC News correspondent and The View co-executive producer and cohost Barbara Walters was diagnosed with a faulty valve in her heart in 2009. After undergoing openheart surgery, she decided to share what she learned through an hour-long television special. (It aired on February 4 and featured prominent heart disease survivors such as Bill Clinton and David Letterman.)

I want to urge women to...Talk to their doctors about their heart health, and make sure that they’re thoroughly screened. Most women have mammograms, but not EKGs. That has to change.

Since my surgery... My diet and exercise habits are basically the same— I was doing pretty well before—but my outlook has changed. I used to do a lot of things I didn’t want to do because I thought I should. Now I only do the things that give me pleasure.

Rita Redberg, MD
Dr. Redberg, the director of Women’s Cardiovascular Services at UCSF Medical Center, has spent her career educating patients—and doctors—about heart disease in women. She has spearheaded physician education programs for the American College of Cardiology and the AHA, and is currently the editor of the medical journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

My proudest heart-health moment was... When I helped a patient go off statin medication. Another doctor had put her on it, and she was suffering from side effects like memory loss, fatigue and muscle weakness. She was miserable. I took a detailed history and figured out that her chance of developing heart disease was actually very low, since she didn’t have any risk factors besides high cholesterol. Sometimes medication is necessary, but in her case it wasn’t. I told her she could stop taking the drugs as long as she followed a heart-healthy diet, got regular exercise and didn’t take up smoking. She was so happy— she told me that I had given her her life back!

The good news about heart disease is... Small steps really do have a big impact. Walking just 10 minutes a day or losing 5 pounds can drastically reduce your risk. Photo: courtesy of Rita Redberg, MD

Delores Covington
As a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Heart Truth Champion, Covington was trained to speak out about women’s heart health to organizations in her community. She went above and beyond this by playing a key role in research on heart disease in African-American women. As president of the Sacramento, California, chapter of The Links, a nonprofit community service organization, she volunteered to collaborate with experts at the University of California, Davis to recruit women for their research. Their goal was to find out whether reaching out to women in churches and community centers would improve their heart disease risk factors. (It did.)

I was surprised to learn... That although chest pain can be a heart attack symptom in women, so can nausea, indigestion and fatigue. It was also surprising that heart disease kills more women than cancer every year, and that it’s the number-one killer of African-American women—facts I didn’t know prior to my work in this area.

What I want women to know about heart disease… It’s usually preventable. You don’t have to die from it. Photo: courtesy of Delores Covington

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