A simple red dress works as a visual red alert to say, "Heart disease does not care what you wear; it is the number one killer among women."
In addition, the red dress is the symbol for women and heart disease awareness. To help raise awareness locally, Putnam County Hospital is hosting a Shades of Red runway event.
Shades of Red will be a "great opportunity to reach out to women in our community and alert them to their risk factors for heart disease," said Annette Handy, a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator with Putnam County Hospital.
On Feb. 5, red formal dresses from Martin's Emporium will be featured on the runway and modeled by 20 local high school students. The audience will also hear the stories of two local women, Jackie Thomas and Karen Cooper.
Thomas underwent sextuple bypass surgery in January 2008, after only exhibiting minor symptoms of severe blockage in her heart. She is now a patient in the cardiac rehabilitation department at PCH.
"It is a godsend for us," she said.
After just feeling tired and winded, Cooper learned she had major blockage and needed a quadruple bypass in August 2005. She too is now a patient at the cardiac rehab center.
"We are very fortunate to have this facility," she said.
Both women said they enjoy the social atmosphere while exercising on the treadmill, backdraft cycle and NuStep. If they have questions or concerns, there are a registered nurse and an exercise specialist on hand.
"According to the American Heart Association, heart disease kills one in four women," said Handy.
Although significant progress has been made in increasing awareness among women from 34 percent in 2000 to 57 percent in 2006, most fail to make the connection between its risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and their personal risk of developing heart disease.
The national campaign is building awareness of women's heart disease and empowering them to reduce and prevent their risk. During Shades of Red, women will hear important heart health messages.
"By joining together we can raise awareness locally about heart disease and help lead women (like Cooper and Thomas) to a path of prevention," said Handy.
Shades of Red will run from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 5 at Walden Inn conference center. Women interested in attending the runway event can purchase an advance ticket for $4 at the PCH gift shop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. All advance sales will end at 1 p.m. Feb. 5.
Tickets can then be purchased at the door for $5 the day of the event.
All proceeds will benefit the PCH Cardiac Rehabilitation Department.
"We encourage everyone attending the event to wear red," said Jennifer Bedwell, marketing coordinator with PCH.
For more information about heart disease prevention, visit www.americanheart.org or call the American Heart Association at 1-800-AHA-USA or 800-242-8721.