Heart disease awareness takes center stage at all-red luncheon

February 2, 2019
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Models walk the runway for the Go Red Fashion Show during the Tri-State Goes Red for Women Celebration Luncheon on Friday at the St. Mary's Conference Center in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — A sea of red washed over the St. Mary’s Conference Center on Friday, as people wore their finest crimson, maroon and rose for a luncheon in honor of heart disease awareness.

The Tri-State Goes Red for Women Celebration Luncheon featured a heart-healthy lunch, an all-red fashion show, free heart health screenings and a presentation from Dr. Mark Studeny, cardiologist at St. Mary’s Regional Heart Institute.

The celebration coincided with National Wear Red Day, which aims to raise awareness about women and heart disease during the month of February, which is also heart health awareness month.

Heart disease remains the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, killing one woman every 80 seconds. About 5.8 percent of all white women, 7.6 percent of black women and 5.6 percent of Mexican-American women have coronary heart disease, according to a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost 64 percent of women who died suddenly of coronary heart disease presented no previous symptoms.

“The bottom line is cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 killer in the United States,” Studeny said. “One in three deaths are attributed to heart disease, and the heart disease deaths are more than all cancers combined, even when you add cancer diagnoses plus people who had some sort of lung trouble.”

The reason for the high number of heart disease diagnoses is guidelines changed in 2016 for hypertension, or high blood pressure. It used to be people with blood pressure of 140/90 were considered to have hypertension, but that number has changed to 130/80.

“That brought in a large number of patients you know will benefit from treatment of hypertension,” he said.

Studeny said understanding of heart disease has advanced significantly since he began his career in the early ’90s, including risk detection, anti-blood clotting medicine and heart stent surgery.

“If you go back to just when I was in med school, boy, you came in with a heart attack (and) the therapy was, ‘Give them an aspirin, give them some blood thinner and put them in bed for a week or two,’” he said.

Stent surgery, or the opening of a narrowed artery, has advanced to the greatest it has ever been, he said. There have also been greater advances in understanding structural heart disease problems, which are the wear and tear of the heart. There are procedures that can be performed on patients in less than 40 minutes that repair significant damage, he said.

Studeny also said he recommends aspirin for people with heart troubles despite studies showing a risk for bleeding in some patients. Patients who don’t have heart conditions are prone to bleeding, but not patients experiencing hypertension or some other condition.

“I certainly tell my patients, as a general rule, to continue the aspirin,” he said. “Certainly seek medical advice before you just inadvertently stop aspirin therapy, especially if it’s been prescribed or recommended by a physician.”

The luncheon ended with a fashion show featuring red clothing items from stores around Cabell County, including Macy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Kenzington Alley. Free health screenings, including blood glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure and stroke-risk assessment, were also offered.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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