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Wear Red Day In ROC

American Heart Association

Women in the Rochester region are raising their voices about the number one killer of women - heart disease.  

“I didn't have much time left," says Sarah Yantachka, who almost lost her life to heart disease at the age of 19. "The doctor told my parents, and I, how lucky I was to have come and seen him that day,”  

Yantachka is among dozens of women with heart disease. She says she was experiencing flutters in her chest, light headedness and spells of being “hot and sweaty”. Not the common heart disease symptoms of jaw or chest pain.

"I continued to have these symptoms and my intuition told me something is really wrong here."

A doctor in Cleveland discovered that Yantachka's aortic valve was severely damaged, and she needed emergency open heart surgery. The 19-year old also has an implanted pace maker and defibrillator.

Yantachka says she thanked her doctor for not chalking up her uncommon symptoms to a teenager wanting attention.

Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks and Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren joined the American Heart Association on Thursday to help in the fight against the silent killer by declaring Friday, February 7th Wear Red Day.

The campaign aims to advance the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

"Today serves as a reminder that we must continue to speak up,” says Sandy Parker, the President and CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance and chairwoman of Go Red for Women. “Wearing red isn't just a fashion statement. It inspires action and we will continue to speak red until every woman knows their risk of heart disease."

Parker says more than 250 area businesses, schools and organizations have donated $5 to the American Heart Association and agreed to wear red on Friday.

Dr. Joan Thomas, a cardiologist at Unity Hospital says 90-percent of women nationwide have at least one risk factor of heart disease, which takes more “women’s lives than all forms of cancer combined.”

"Know your numbers. Know what your blood pressure is. Know what your cholesterol is. Don’t let your doctor tell that it's okay. And if it's elevated, get it treated and know if it's improving."

Dr. Thomas also adds that women who smoke should quit. And be active, increasing your daily activity.  

Now Yantachka, who's a pharmacist at Wegmans, shares her story with other women.

"The importance of knowing her body, listening to it, [and] taking care of it. The typical signs of heart disease aren't typical in women - get a second, third and fourth opinion, if necessary."

Yantachka is married with two little girls. A dream she says she thought would never happen.

The Wear Red campaign includes month-long community activities. Among the locations: the Distillery, a Razor Sharks and RIT game as well as heart health screening events.