The American Heart Association has implemented National Wear Red Day, the first Friday of each February. On this day, everyone is encouraged to wear red, take notice of their cardiovascular health and take action to live longer, healthier lives.
The Grambling Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. hosted its annual Go Red for Women luncheon. The event, held at New Rocky Valley Baptist Church in Grambling, attracted a large crowd.
Kathleen Candler, a registered nurse and professor at Grambling State University, was the guest speaker. Her topics included stress, poor diets, smoking, body weight, high cholesterol, heredity, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and high blood pressure – all things that impact the heart negatively.
She said what we eat, as well as what we drink, affects our heart. “We need to back off of salt. It increases fluids in the body and increases blood pressure,” said Candler. She encouraged everyone to eat healthy foods such as lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol deteriorates the kidney and liver and wreaks havoc on the cardiovascular system.
Another thing that affects the heart negatively is smoking. “There is nothing good about smoking. Every year that you smoke, you lessen your life by four years, and secondhand smoke is the same as smoking yourself,” said Candler.
Some regiments that are recommended to help the heart can be dangerous. She said a glass of wine a day is not always good and to be aware of taking an aspirin a day in places with high altitudes.
One alarming fact she shared is that more young people are dying from heart attacks. Men and women have different signs and symptoms. Most men experience chest pain, chest discomfort or chest pressure. Women are atypical with pain. One lady had severe thumb pain. Candler said if any pain is persistent, one should seek help.
To be heart healthy she advised everyone to have their lungs checked beginning at the age of 20, eat right and be diligent about exercising.
One person who found out about the dangers of smoking, stress and an improper diet is Gloria Moore. She told the audience after having a heart attack and triple bypass surgery she had to change her lifestyle and the way she cooked.
“I smoked for 30 years. Diet and stress were my major problems. My heart said many things, but I did not listen,” she said.
Now, the retired educator walks four miles in the morning and has a gym membership. “I am 67 years old, and I want to live to be older. It is good to still be among the living,” she said.
President Gwendolyn F. Giles said, “In an effort to save lives and raise awareness about this silent killer, in 2003 the American Heart Association launched Go Red for Women. We are going to continue to bring awareness to issues that affect women and the African American community.”
GSU Level One nursing students, Dave Fields, Rebecca McLeod, Shannon Williams, Lachantae Cooper, Candice Shaw, Brandon Butler and Tyrell Walton, performed blood pressure checks.
“We were happy to donate our time to take blood pressures and increase awareness of heart disease in the African American community,” said Fields, a junior nursing major from Mililani, Hawai.
“I came to the event because a friend invited me. It was a blessing to know more about women’s health and how to screen,” said Sharon Mayfield, a police juror from Ruston.
“Our national campaign brings awareness to heart disease in women. It was a great event with much fellowship and fun,” said Chelsea Smith, Miss Black Louisiana USA, who is a nursing major from Bogalusa.
“I came because I want to be more proactive about my health. The speaker really opened my eyes to a lot of the risk factors that can lead to heart disease. I’m glad I came, it was a lot of fun anmd very informative,” said Kelsey Kyser, GSU doctoral student.
“I believe in supporting good causes especially health related events. Being from a little city, I understand the severity of health andf its diseases. This event was nice and very informative. I had lots of fun,” said LaDerricka Morris, sophomore kineisology major from Bogalusa.