February 21, 2007 | By: Laura Skillman

As models moved about the room highlighting the latest hues of spring, the attendees were wrapped in shades of red to emphasize the fun but important reason for the special event – heart health.

The recent luncheon, Shades of Red, included a healthy lunch, a look at the latest fashions modeled by women who have been impacted by heart disease and a presentation by a local cardiologist. 

“This is basically a heart awareness program for the women in Henderson,” said Jan Dougan, event co-chair and Henderson County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. “We did a similar event two years ago and it was so successful that we thought we would want to try it again to increase the awareness of heart disease and its symptoms for women.”

Dougan said the program is an attempt to get women to “listen to their bodies, talk to their physicians about what’s going on and to be persistent – keep going back until they find out what’s wrong.” 

Karen Hill, event co-chair, said as a dietitian at Henderson’s Methodist Hospital she sees many people with heart disease and knows that it can be prevented. 

“I think women are just not aware of how prevalent it is in women and that the symptoms can be different in women than in men,” she said. “So anytime we can educate on prevention, that’s what we want to do.”

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in America. Women are six times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than breast cancer, said Jennifer Herrell, a local cardiologist. Thirty-eight percent of women, compared to 25 percent of men, die within one year of having a heart attack. Death rates for men have been decreasing but not so for women, she said.

Risk factors include being 55 years old and above, smoking, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes and a family history of early coronary disease. While a woman cannot do anything about age, gender or family history, she can stop smoking, control blood 
pressure, cholesterol levels, obesity and diabetes, and become physically active, Herrell said.

Classic symptoms are crushing chest pain that goes down the arm and up to the jaw, shortness of breath, sweating and nausea. Women often have atypical symptoms, such as feeling overly tired, vague discomfort, numbness in hands or overall shortness of breath, indigestion or stomach pain.

Dorothy Barron knows about heart disease all too well. She has had two open heart surgeries. Today, she exercises and eats heart healthy. Barron was one of the models during the Shades of Red luncheon and was also a model two years ago.

“It’s a lot of fun, and the cause is one of the main reasons I do it,” she said. “So people can see I’m feeling good.”

This was Frances Crafton’s first modeling role but she’s no stranger to heart disease. She said there is a strong family history of heart disease, and in 2005 she had a stent placed in her heart. Crafton exercises and watches what she eats.

“I came out to make ladies aware,” she said. “My family has a long history of heart disease so I’ve been aware of it all my life. Right now, I’m healthy.”

Nearly 200 women attended the event sponsored by the UK Cooperative Extension Service, American Heart Association, Methodist Hospital, The Gleaner, The Heart Group, Henderson Community College, Integra Bank and Ohio Valley Bank.


Jan Dougan, 270-826-8387