WXXI AM News

Go Red For Women Luncheon Highlights Heart Risks And Health Tips

Oct 29, 2015

The Rochester Go Red for Women Luncheon attracted hundreds of women to the Riverside Convention Center. The event highlighted survivor stories and featured important health tips.

Go Red for Women is a movement by the American Heart Association to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease as a women's issue. One in three American women die of heart disease.

Phyllis Jackson is not one of them.

"I had been diagnosed with blood pressure for several years and I was on medication. And I started having chest pain on a Friday."

It wasn't until Monday, when she went to her doctor for an E-K-G, that she found out she was having a heart attack. Jackson is a registered nurse, and yet she didn't recognize the symptoms of a heart attack when they were happening to her.

"The process of thinking, I think, for women and for care givers in particular is, I take care of people who have a heart attack, I take care of people with health issues, I don't have them."

Since then, she's turned it around, and started making healthier choices. Andrew Sykes is the president of Habits at Work, and he says everyone knows what these choices are: eating better, exercising, and not smoking. The trick is to inspire people to take those actions right this second.

"So rather than say, Should I look after my family or spend more time at work OR should I get more exercise and eat healthily? The frame of reference I'm looking for is, I need to eat healthy and exercise in order to be a great parent, a great employee, a great caregiver."

He says people can be overwhelmed by too much or conflicting health advice. The most important thing, he says, is to exercise.

"People who exercise more are more likely to make healthy food choices, they sleep better, they're less likely to be stressed, they're much less likely to smoke or more likely to quit tobacco. So there's an order that we encourage people to take these on and it always starts with exercise."

Sykes says women can also play an important role in establishing the health habits of their families. These healthy life choices could prevent up to 80% of cardiac events in women.