At Christ Medical Center, everyone’s seeing red for a reason
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org February 19, 2014 9:26AM
At Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn on another recent frigid winter’s day, the hot color to wear was red.
Not only did it catch eyes, it also was designed to raise awareness of a health crisis of sorts for women.
The annual “Wear Red Day,” a nationwide campaign on Feb. 7, is designed to let more folks know about the No. 1 killer of women: heart disease.
Since red is associated with hearts, it made perfect sense for doctors, nurses, staff and even newborns to don something red that day.
That was Dr. Roman Kozyckyj wearing a bright red bow tie. And nurse Sue Latocha wearing as much red as she could.
“We’re trying to raise awareness,” she said, adding that someone who may ask why everyone is wearing red will learn more about the dangers of heart disease.
Free blood pressure screenings and body mass index testing were offered to people at Christ Medical Center that day.
Latocha cautioned that the telltale signs of a heart attack, shooting pain down one’s left arm, may not materialize in each person. Some women may feel pain in their back or a tightness in their throat, she said, signs that there could be a heart attack underway, she said.
Dr. Marc Silver, a heart specialist and director of the Heart Failure Institute at Christ Medical Center, said “Wear Red Day” began in 2003.
Not only is heart disease the No. 1 killer of women, he said, but black and Hispanic women face even greater risks from the disease.
“It’s important to know your family history about heart disease,” said Silver, who wrote the book “Success With Heart Failure.”
What’s important to remember, he said, is that heart disease is something that can be avoided. Factors that could help include changes in one’s diet, for example, or increased exercise or the simple act of deciding to put down those cigarettes.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are factors as well, as is obesity.
“Walking is excellent exercise, 20 to 30 minutes a day. If you can’t walk outside, walk in a mall or in the halls of your building, or even walk up and down stairs,” Silver said.
Another factor in trying to avoid heart diseases is watching the amount of sodium in your diet. More sodium can lead to higher blood pressure which, he said, “can increase the workload the heart has to do.”
He noted that there sometimes can be pain in the chest when one is having a heart attack.
“That’s a blessing. Not everybody gets a warning,” Silver said.
He likes the fact that hospital personnel wear red once a year to raise awareness but wonders something.
“I’m not sure we say it loud enough,” he said.
In the maternity ward of the hospital, babies were wearing bright red caps that day, doing their part on “Wear Red Day.”
Included were two newborns: Josephine McArdle, the daughter of Collin and Melissa McArdle, of Oak Lawn; and Kyii Beach, the daughter of Kenyea and Diamond Beach, of Blue Island.
The tiny bundles of joy didn’t know it, but they were getting the word out. Even Kenyea got in the spirit by wearing a bright red long-sleeved T-shirt.
Andrea Miller, director of women’s services at Christ, said this was the first year babies were donning red caps.
“We are trying to raise awareness by doing this.” Miller said of the tiny red caps atop the babies’ heads.