Go Red for Women luncheon in Tyler promotes heart health awareness

Retired CEO of UT Health Tyler discusses launching the Go Red for Women initiative
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 6:04 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The fifth annual Go Red for Women luncheon was held in Tyler on Tuesday, bringing together survivors of cardiovascular disease.

“The Go Red luncheon is an event to bring awareness to the community members about cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease claims the lives of more women annually than any cancer combined,” said Lecia Bowman, chief nursing officer for UT Health Tyler and the UT Health and Science Center North Campus.

The event is meant to educate women on the signs and symptoms to watch for since cardiovascular distress presents differently, and more subtly, in women than in men.

“We don’t grab our chest and fall to the ground,” said retired CEO of UT Health Tyler Vicki Briggs. “We actually have subtle symptoms that really need to be picked up by our physicians.”

It’s important for women to understand what the subtle signs are, so they will know how to recognize a serious event in themselves and those around them.

“If a friend looks a little bit off today, their coloring’s a little bit bad, they don’t feel really well — motivate them to go to the doctor and get checked out,” Briggs said. “I’ve had a friend who had no idea they had heart disease. They went to an event, felt bad, went to the restroom — they had a massive heart attack in the restroom and died. It can be a surprise.”

Chief nursing officer for UT Health Tyler discusses women's cardiovascular health

She also mentioned that the practical way many women handle their own health can put them at risk when it comes to heart disease.

“One thing with women is we hate to go to the emergency room,” Briggs said, “especially if we get there, and we’re not sick, so we don’t go. The most important thing for women to know is if you don’t feel right, go to the emergency room and get treated quickly. I’ve seen far too many women die from heart attacks that didn’t even know they had an issue.”

Bowman explained that one strength of the Go Red event is the way it brings survivors together, enabling their personal stories to help others.

“We always have a survivor highlight story at our Go Red for Women luncheons,” Bowman said. “Then, the survivors come, and they have a table here; they share their stories, and it’s really a good way to bring awareness to women of how unexpected cardiovascular disease can be. You can be healthy, and all of a sudden have a heart attack.”

The unpredictability might sound frightening, but Go Red events are meant to equip women to be prepared and prevent negative outcomes through early action.

Briggs launched the Go Red initiative locally when she came to Longview in 2018, utilizing her prior experience with the program since 2004 through the American Heart Association. The luncheons were paused due to Covid but have now returned as the initiative continues to grow.

She reiterated the Go Red message by saying, “Follow your gut. If you don’t feel ok, do something about it.”

The Tuesday luncheon surpassed the goal of raising $10,000 for the American Heart Association.

Meteorologist Katie Vossler hosts Go Red for Women luncheon in Tyler