Rita the Red Dress Lady

Rita the Red Dress Lady

by Stephanie Mills

Newswest 9

ODESSA - American Heart Month has a new face raising awareness, or should we say dress. Medical Center Hospital is introducing 'Rita the Red Dress Lady'. She is apart of the ongoing campaign to end heart disease and stroke in women.

Karry Morris, a Cardiovascular Nurse at MCH, explains Rita's purpose, "We want people to have fun with her, to take pictures with her, put them on twitter and facebook. Really just spread awareness about heart health and what people can do to maintain their heart health."

For the past 10 years, the red dress has been a way for the American Heart Association to push their Go Red for Women campaign. The disease hits us closer to home. In Ector County, it's the leading cause of death for all adults.

Morris says, "With 1 out of 3 women dying of heart disease, everyone in the community is affected by someone who has or will have heart disease. It's an issue that is close to everyone and that everyone needs to pay attention to."

Tejas Patel, a Cardiologist at MCH ProCare, spoke on the important things to know about this issue, such as your family's history.

Dr. Patel says, "There are several diseases related to heart which can run in family. Sometimes they're associated to certain gene problems... Heart attack can run in families, too. Especially if you have family history of heart attack in very young individuals."

Signs of a heart attack include uncomfortable pressure or pain in the center of your chest, discomfort lasting longer than a few minutes, pain in arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach, shortness of breath, and nausea, vomiting, cold sweats or light-headedness.

Doctor Patel says, "Prevention is better than cure. With the modern lifestyle we pay the price by having high incidents of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, things like that. All these conditions are risk factors for heart disease. If we can prevent these diseases from happening we can decrease the risk of heart disease substantially, too."

Morris explains how heart disease personally affects her, "Working in the cardiac field, you see a lot of things happen that you know could have been prevented. It just breaks your heart that they weren't. You want to see people be proactive about their health. Rather than let something happen and then they're worried about it."

Rita the Red Dress lady is able to bring a bit of light-hearted fun to this serious subject.

According to Early Heart Attack Care by MCH, men and women can experience different signs of a heart attack. Men usually have typical signs and symptoms mentioned. But, women can have achiness or fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain. And not just pain in the arm, but it can be in the back, shoulder, neck or jaw. For more information on heart disease, go to goredforwomen.org.