Red dress fashion show raises awareness

By Jennifer Lassiter
Star Staff
jlassiter@starhq.com

   If you are a fan of french fries and fast-food you could be at risk for cardiovascular disease, which is the number one killer among women in the United States. To raise local awareness, Mountain States Health Alliance and Peebles teamed up and hosted a Red Dress Fashion Show and luncheon yesterday at The Truman Clark Health Annex.
   Lori Hamilton, coordinator of the Health Resources Center in The Mall, and Josh Smith, anchor at WJHL, presented the fashion models and their flashy red attire.
   All 12 models wore red dresses from Peebles. The Red Dress symbolizes the national campaign to raise awareness about women and heart disease and The Heart Truth Message : "Heart disease doesn't care what you wear. It's the number one killer in women." All models have experienced heart disease in a personal way, either by having the disease themselves or through a loved one who has had symptoms, surgery or gone through rehab.
   Dr. Shobha Hiremagalur, the main presenter, is board certified in internal medicine and cardiology and is a frequent speaker about cardiovascular disease.
   Dr. Hiremagalur said, "Heart disease doesn't necessarily mean heart attack."
   During her presentation, Hiremagalur talked about common misconceptions of heart disease. The disease can affect people of all ages, which most people don't realize. Hiremagular has treated a female patient as young as 27 and a male patient as young as 25. Both of these victims of heart disease are from Elizabethton.
   Dr. Hiremagalur talked about the many risk factors that contribute to heart disease.
   "A family history of heart disease puts you at risk," she said.
   Smokers have a higher risk of heart disease than non-smokers. Smoke causes high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a "silent killer" of women because often times patients won't show any other symptoms.
   According to Hiremagalur, the first step to beating cardiovascular disease is educating one's self by getting accurate information.
   Frequent and routine check-ups will help prevent heart attacks before they happen. Listening to your body was a theme that Dr. Hiremagular spoke about at the event.
   Hiremagular spoke extensively about symptoms to look for in heart disease. Chest pain doesn't necessarily mean heart problems. Many things from indigestion to gall bladder problems can cause chest pains. Knowing your body can help a physician determine what is really wrong.
   Diet is one of the more important factors that contributes to the growing number of victims of heart disease. Hiremagular suggests a common sense diet.
   "Counting calories can often drive you crazy," said Hiremagular. "I suggest just eating smaller portions."
   Salt is also linked to high blood pressure, which can be hidden in some of the labels in our food. Hiremagular suggests reading the labels carefully and not being tricked by a play on words.
   Dr. Hiremagular said, "I hope to teach family and friends about heart disease so that more people will be tested."
   The fashion show ended with great door prizes ranging from beautiful flower arrangements to cardiovascular screenings.