Even though she may be a few years shy of having to worry about it, 4-year-old Tyana Dammann was not afraid to strut her stuff for the Go Red for Women Fashion Show and Heart Disease Symposium at the Kroc Center on Sunday afternoon.
Local women of all ages joined her on the stage to bring awareness to the dangers of heart disease in women.
“We are here to talk about our hearts,” said Tanya Jeffords, the fashion show commentator. “With power, style and grace, we will defeat heart disease.”
The symposium was organized by the Augusta chapter of The Links Inc., which is a national not-for-profit organization of about 1,200 black women focusing on five facets, one of which is health and human services, said Dr. Miriam Atkins, a local oncologist.
Atkins said the group wanted to educate the community on the dangers of heart disease for women. It is the No. 1 killer for females.
One point that she thought often gets missed was the symptoms of heart disease in women. They are not the same as in men and can be either ignored or not taken seriously.
Traci McKie, a physician assistant at Fort Gordon’s cardiology clinic, said the symptoms for women can include nausea and back pain, which can easily be brushed off as a different issue.
“A lot of women go home and die,” she said. “You need to know your risk factors and pay attention to the symptoms.”
The fashion show itself featured local women, some who are involved in health care.
Valena Palmer, a nurse at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, said she walked in the show to advocate for women and heart disease. Her mother was a stroke victim, so she saw the effects firsthand.
“I hope to help educate women,” she said. “If participating in a fashion show does that, I’m happy to help.”
After the women showed off dresses featuring bold hemlines, flashy accents and shoes in everything from fur to leopard print, the featured speaker took the stage.
Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Mac A. Bowen, from University Hospital, spoke to the crowd about the dangers of not being aware of the signs and even genetic disposition of heart disease.
Bowen said the incidence of cardiovascular disease in women is significant, but not impossible to prevent. His focus is preventative care and, with the addition of some new equipment at University Hospital’s labs, he can profile women now to see how high their risk is.
“My goal today is to make these women resources and assets in the community,” he said. “They can share the knowledge with others.”