Sacramento American Heart Association Celebrates National Wear Red Day

Millions of women, and men who support them, wore red Friday to draw attention to heart disease. The leading killer of women, it claims more lives that all forms of cancer combined.

Doctors say nearly 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented through education and lifestyle changes.

“Things like checking your blood pressure and your weight every day,” said Dr. Gurpreet Sodhi, a cardiologist with Sutter Health. “Keeping your BMI, which is your Body Mass Index, as low as possible is the most important thing.”

Dozens gathered at the Arden Fair Mall to kick off American Heart Month with an event that included free health screenings, CPR demonstrations and a fashion show featuring Sacramento-area heart disease survivors.

Susan Keeley walked the runway in a ruffled, off-the shoulder gown. Even though she's active and exercises regularly, the 60-year old suffered a heart attack two and a half years ago while working out. She's now an outspoken advocate for heart health.

“The American Heart Association recommends knowing your LDL, HDL, Triglycerides, your BMI and your blood pressure,” said Keeley. “I would add to that the importance of knowing your Lipoprotein(a). It was my only risk factor.”

Keeley never imagined she'd fall victim to a heart attack. Looking back now, she says, "If it could happen to me , it can happen to anyone."

Natalie Swanson and her five-year old daughter Zoey also walked the runway. The young girl was born with a double inlet left ventricle but, after two open heart surgeries, she's now as active as your typical youngster.

“She takes tap and dance classes every week,” Natalie Swanson pointed out. “She loves to ride horses and, even more than that, she loves to ride her dirt bike with her dad.”

American Heart Association officials are encouraging women of all ages to regularly check their cholesterol, blood pressure and BMI - and to see their doctor if they're at risk of heart disease.

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