Plattsburgh's first annual "Go Red for Women" event a first class affair

PLATTSBURGH The tables of The Burgundy Room were beautifully adorned with white table cloths, red napkins and red floral centerpieces. Gift bags covered with red and pink hearts sat next to each chair. Most stunning of all were the 230 women sitting around the tables. Each one was adorned in red, the signature color of heart health. It was the first Go Red for Women event to be held in the city Feb. 1, and thanks to 11 area women with a passion for preventing heart disease, it was a first class affair and huge success. These women formed the Go Red for Women Committee last fall, and have labored tirelessly to bring their dream to fruition. They now hope to make it an annual event. Included on The Go Red for Women Committee were co-chairpersons Rosemary Meese and Jennifer Miller, spokesperson Erin Connors, and members Pat Condon, Shirley Doolen, Mary Duprey, Julie Kramer, Dena OConnell, Laura Oliva and Tanya Sileo. The committee also included Faith Osborne Long, the regional director of the American Heart Association, and the only committee member who was not a volunteer. Go Red for Women is an AHA national movement that began five years ago. The mission is to educate women about their number one medical enemy cardiovascular disease. Many women do not realize heart disease is the number one killer of women, and stroke the number three. Combined, these two forms of cardiovascular disease kill more women annually than the other top nine causes of death combined. Because many of these deaths can be prevented, the movement is dedicated to empowering women with the knowledge they need to create individual plans to improve their health for life, for themselves and for those they love. The AHA is hoping the movement will reduce womens risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by 25 percent by 2010. Plattsburghs first annual event cut right to the heart of the matter. Following a heart healthy breakfast, guest speaker Dr. Timothy J. Garrand, a Mooers native who returned to the North Country in 2005 to provide angioplasty services, educated women about their risks for cardiovascular disease and what they could do to lower them. Some of the most important changes he listed were losing weight, quitting smoking, eating a low-fat diet, lowering high blood pressure and controlling diabetes. Dr. Garrand pointed out even one cigarette a day increases a womans chance of cardiovascular disease three times. Dr. Garrand also stressed the importance of knowing the signs of heart attack and stroke and seeking medical attention immediately. Though some women experience classic signs like chest pain, many only have atypical symptoms such as pain in the arms, jaw, nose or tongue, or lightheadedness and nausea. You should not worry about embarrassing yourself by seeking medical help, he said. Only professionals can determine if any of these signs are a result of a heart attack or stroke. Lisa and David Boise, from Fred Villaris of Plattsburgh Inc., led the women in stretching and breathing exercises and stressed the importance of making time in busy schedules to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease through regular exercise. Tracy Posada, a physical education teacher at Peru Middle School, informed and inspired the audience by sharing her personal experience. Ten years ago, as an active healthy 25-year-old, Ms. Posada suffered a stroke. She ignored the worsening symptoms for 11 hours before seeking medical attention. It never occurred to her atypical symptoms could have meant a stroke. Fortunately, the only permanent damage she suffered is some loss of sight in her left eye. Even that could have been avoided if she had sought help immediately. Plans are already underway for Plattsburghs 2009 Go Red event. Due to the unforeseen and overwhelming turnout seen this year, the committee has already decided the event will be held in a larger facility next year. To learn more about the Go Red for Women movement and to learn more about how to help prevent cardiovascular disease, visit their informative Web site, www.goredforwomen.org .

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