Cayman Heart Fund raised more than $16,000 last week during its third annual Red Dress Learn and Live Luncheon.
The luncheon is part of the fund’s efforts to educate the people of the Cayman Islands about the world’s leading cause of death – cardiovascular disease.
“The first thing you can do to reduce your risk for getting heart disease is to be aware of your risk factors, which this event provided,” the organisers of the luncheon and its accompanying expo said in a thank you letter to attendees. “The second thing you can do is reduce your stress and a great way to reduce stress is to relax and have fun, which is another way this event helped celebrate Heart Health Month.”
The red dress is part of a global Heart Truth Campaign that strives to highlight that it does not matter what you wear: cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer in women.
Attendees were given red dress pins to pin on their own red dresses at the sold-out event at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman on Friday, 2 March.
The event raised more than $16,000 from tickets sales, raffle items and its Dress Down Day. All proceeds benefit the Cayman Heart Fund to promote education and training and provide free medical screenings.
The next Red Dress day will be held on 7 March, 2013.
The guest speaker at the luncheon was author and cardiologist Dr. Michael Ozner, who delivered a presentation showing simple lifestyle changes can make a significant difference in staving off heart disease and stroke.
Dr. Sook Yin, medical director of the Cayman Heart Fund, revealed some alarming statistics about heart disease during her introductory speech, including that one in three women die of heart disease.
“The red dress reminds a woman to focus not only on her outer self, but also on her inner self,” she said.
In partnership with St. Matthew’s University, Cayman Heart Fund has done health screenings to highlight people’s risks of cardiovascular disease, such as blood glucose numbers, BMI and blood pressure.
Dr. Yin said about half the people screened by the Fund volunteers were overweight and one-third of those over 20 were obese. Of those screened, 6 per cent were diagnosed with high sugar levels and 15 per cent with high cholesterol for the first time.
“These people did not know this until they had the screening tests with us … Most of the time, we only go to see the doctor when we’re ill,” she said.
Dr. Ozner told the audience cardiovascular disease “kills more people worldwide than any other disease out there. It’s preventable, it’s reversible”.
He said doctors can now do blood tests to check unstable plaque levels in arteries, so it is important for patients to visit their doctors while well and work with physicians to cut back on risks of heart disease.
He urged people to visit their dentist and dental hygienist to check for periodontitis – inflammation of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth, which occurs when gum disease, or gingivitis, goes untreated. Dr. Ozner said the inflammatory molecules of the inflamed gums enter the blood stream and can lead a high risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Taking exercise is another way to help beat heart disease and it doesn’t have to be exercise that leaves you panting. Simply walking for 30 minutes a day can reduce a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease, Dr. Ozner said.
He also quoted a 2007 study showing a midday nap reduces the risk of heart attack by 37 per cent.
On Saturday, the Cayman Heart Fund also hosted a Heart Health Day at the Arts and Recreation Centre in Camana Bay with booths and stalls from several health-related organisations throughout Cayman and with guest speakers from medical fields in Cayman and overseas. At the Heart Health Day, members of the public were invited to undergo screening to determine whether they were at risk of heart disease.
“The red dress reminds a woman to focus not only on her outer self, but also on her inner self.” Dr. Sook Yin, Cayman Heart Fund