Southern Tier Goes Red For Women

By Kelly McCarthy

February 1, 2013 Updated Feb 1, 2013 at 7:19 PM EST

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Noticing a lot of red in outfits Friday around the Twin Tiers?

It is February, but it's not a prelude to Valentine's Day. The color serves as a reminder to help save lives.

The National Go Red For Women Day, which takes place Feb. 1, is intended to create awareness that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of American women.

Everyone in sight at a red ribbon ceremony at UHS in Vestal was dashed in red, and they made sure everyone else knew why.

Volunteers there were collecting donations for the Go Red For Women movement, and doing their part to spread awareness.

A cardiologist told the crowd that symptoms on heart disease in women are different from those experienced by men.

For women, heart disease symptoms can include jaw pain, nausea and extreme fatigue, instead of the common chest pain in men.

"Women who have heart attack die more often than men. Actually the most common presentation of a women coming to the Emergency Room with a heart attack is sudden death. They come dead on arrival," said Dr. Hisham Kashou, UHS Cardiologist.

One survivor of a triple bypass surgery was there to share her story.

She explained how much her life has changed since finding out just nine months ago that she has heart disease, and how her family was there to support her.

"And he said to me you won the lottery today. And I said, 'What? I'm facing triple bypass surgery. What do you mean?' And he said you won the lottery, they found out you had a problem before you dropped dead," said Gigi Puglisi, a cardiac rehab patient. "And I remembered that. I remembered that going into the hospital and talking to people. I am one of the lucky ones."

Kashou says one of the most important lifestyle changes a person can make to avoid heart disease is to exercise regularly; 30 minutes a day is proven to benefit the heart.

"We need to change the perception, we need to education the physicians and patients, women, that heart disease is their number one killer. Only 20 percent know that heart disease kills them. Eighty percent thinks it's breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or something else," Kashou said.

UHS will light up their building in red Friday night to continue spreading awareness.

February is American Heart Month.

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