By Lynette Carrington
On Friday, May 8 at The Phoenician Resort, the Phoenix Go Red for Women Luncheon was held. The event enveloped the ballroom and several other rooms on the lower level of the resort as women (and men, too!) came to celebrate good heart health and raise awareness and funds while learning how to lessen the risk of heart-related conditions.
Decades ago, heart disease was primarily thought of as a man’s disease. Alarmingly, heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for women! Through a combination of diet and exercise and other stress-reducing activities, heart incidents and stroke can be prevented. Heart disease and its symptoms are very different in women than they are in men and a focused collection of businesses were on hand during Go Red with information aimed at fighting the stigma of heart disease and recognizing some of the symptoms of heart disease, heart attacks and stroke.
Cayci Oliver is the executive director of the Greater Phoenix Division of American Heart Association. Oliver states, “Many of us are great about taking care of everything around us-our families, work, the community-but not always good about taking care of ourselves. If you are one of those people, please pledge to yourself, your family and friends that you will ‘Get Into the Driver’s Seat of Your Health.’ Did you know that lowering your blood pressure to a normal range may decrease your risk of stroke and heart disease by about 50 percent?”
In one particularly compelling breakout session, Dr. Michael Breus, the nationally-renowned sleep specialist seen on Oprah and Dr. Oz spoke on the link between the lack of sleep and sleep disorders and heart disease. There are so many root causes of sleep-related issues, but since it can ultimately have an effect on the heart, it is worth checking out any sleep apnea or sleep issues.
After a fun silent auction and fashion show presented by Goodwill, the ballroom opened up to all the women and men, most of whom were dressed in every shade of red imaginable to show support for Go Red for Women.
The afternoon was emceed by ABC15’s Katie Raml followed by a welcome greeting from Cayci Oliver, chair greeting from National Bank of Arizona’s Deborah Bateman, speech from Dr. Himal Shah and Heidi Renpenning from Univision spoke about Hispanics and heart disease.
Chair Deborah Bateman recounted her own inspiring journey of learning that she had off-the-charts high blood pressure-something that could have ultimately claimed her life. Instead, Bateman got informed, slimmed down, changed her diet, started exercising and uses her important story to illustrate how any one of the women in that room could be living with a potentially deadly heart-related issue. Her inspiration certainly was impactful and gave a face to the lurking dangers of heart disease.
The audience was moved to tears as passion speaker Mandy Gracie recounted the sudden loss of her mother to a heart attack that most likely could have been prevented or at least non-fatal had the warning signs been caught just a little sooner. Finally, keynote speaker and internationally recognized entrepreneur, humorist and author Rita Davenport dazzled the crowd with her wit and wisdom. When all was said and done, the Go Red for Women Luncheon raised more than $400,000 in the fight against heart disease. For additional information on heart disease and organizational events visit www.heart.org.