North Shore-LIJ Marks Annual “Go Red for Women” Campaign To Raise Awareness of Heart Disease Risk

Go Red for Women's Heart Health
Portia Rindos, left, a heart disease survivor from Long Island who spoke at the Go Red event, catches up with her cardiologist, Stacey Rosen, MD

MANHASSET, NY – To increase awareness about women’s risk for heart disease and prevention efforts, the North Shore-LIJ Health System today took part in the national “Go Red for Women” campaign with a special program held at North Shore University Hospital to coincide with the American Heart Association’s (AHA) annual National Wear Red Day to show support for women’s heart health.

Heart disease and stroke are the cause of more than 420,000 deaths in women annually.  And, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, taking more lives than all forms of cancer combined.

These are sobering statistics; however, health care experts note that 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.

With more than 150 employees and healthcare professionals, the event focused on educating staff about gender differences regarding heart disease and risks among women.  The program also delivered messages to empower women to make healthy lifestyle changes and how to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke.  A highlight of the event was an interactive drawing demonstration by Arnie Levin, a well know cartoonist whose work has appeared in The New Yorker.  Mr. Levin engaged participants in a humorous and light hearted exchange about a serious topic – heart disease. Organized by the Gold Coast Arts Center in Great Neck, attendees also helped create a large mural with hand-crafted, heartfelt messages of why women were pledging to safeguard their heart health.

Committed to educating communities about ways to improve women’s heart health, the North Shore-LIJ Health System is the sponsor of “AHA Cities Go Red” across New York City and Long Island.

“We know that more women in this country die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined, yet too few women consider cardiac disease a major health concern,” said Stacey E. Rosen, MD, vice president of women's health, The Katz Institute for Women's Health at the North Shore-LIJ Health System, and a member of AHA’s Board of Directors for the Founder’s Affiliate.   “For women it is important to understand that the symptoms of heart disease may be different than in men.  Women are less likely to have typical chest pain and may have other symptoms like back pain, excessive fatigue or breathlessness as their first sign of heart disease.  Women should know that it is important not to delay seeking immediate treatment,” Dr. Rosen said.

Early detection and prevention are crucial in the fight against heart disease, said Dr. Rosen. The Women’s Heart Health Program at the North Shore-LIJ’s The Katz Institute for Women's Health can help women take positive steps toward a healthier heart. “The program focuses on the unique cardiac needs of women with a specific focus on heart health and prevention and not simply treating disease,” she said.

“We know the Go Red for Women movement helps women live healthier lives,” Dr. Rosen said.  For example, Dr. Rosen said nearly 90 percent of the women involved in the campaign have made at least one healthy behavior change, more than one-third have lost weight, more than 50 percent have stepped up their exercise and six out of 10 have changed their diets.

During the program, Portia Rindos, 58, a heart disease survivor from Massapequa, shared her dramatic story when she was faced with two cardiac events.  Ms. Rindos, a wife, mother of two and former cardiac nurse, experienced two life threatening cardiac incidents about six years ago. She had a sudden “complete heart block,” or virtually no heart rhythm, which required a cardiac pacemaker.  After this event, Ms. Rindos got a full cardiac work up and extensive testing.  One of her tests revealed blockages in two heart arteries and she received two stents at LIJ Medical Center.  Without these procedures, Ms Rindos said, “I don’t know where I would be.” Over time, Ms. Rindos changed her lifestyle, and now follows a strict healthy diet, exercises regularly and lost 40 pounds. “I feel better and have more energy,” adding, “I’m willing to do what it takes  because it pays off in the end…I want to be able to see my daughters get married.”

 “Getting involved with Go Red for Women saves lives,” Dr. Rosen said.  “It encourages women to take charge of their heart health through early identification of modifiable risk factors and by making small changes that are within their control, such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and not smoking.”

According to the AHA, thanks to the Go Red for Women movement, today nearly 300 fewer die from heart disease and stroke each day, and death in women has decreased by more than 30 percent over the past 10 years.

Other North Shore-LIJ facilities participating in Go Red for Women’s Heart Heath events during the month of February include: Southside Hospital, Plainview and Syosset Hospitals and Lenox Hill Hospital.

To see a video about this, click here.

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