Red letter day in Marietta

For an eighth year, more than 100 area women donned red shirts, scarves and skirts to show support of women’s heart health on Thursday at the Memorial Health System’s Go Red for Women Heart Luncheon.

Dr. Joseph Mayo, lead cardiologist at Marietta Memorial Hospital, said heart health education is especially important in this area.

“Washington County has the highest rate of heart disease in Ohio as of six years ago,” he said.

The American Heart Association lists heart disease as the No. 1 killer of women across the U.S., causing one in three deaths.

One thing helping to combat this is the cardiac unit at Marietta Memorial Hospital, said Mayo, which is building two new cath labs.

“We’re in the top 100 hospitals in the nation,” he said. “It’s the second year (the hospital has) been given the award. I think that says a lot.”

Jennifer Offenberger, director of marketing and public relations for the Memorial Health System, said only a select few hospitals in Ohio won the award.

Nearly 150 women were present at the luncheon Thursday at the Marietta Shrine Club, including members of the hospital, area businesses and the community.

Dr. Eric Goulder, also a cardiologist at the hospital, said the health system is doing more and more to help patients, ensuring that they can stay local instead of traveling 100 miles to get quality heart care.

“There are a lot of people here with damaged hearts,” Goulder said. “When you look at the region, the ability to stay local is pretty phenomenal for patients.”

The heart luncheon was a way for patients and heart supporters to have an afternoon together.

Deb Shockey, 52, of Marietta, said she had a fun lunch with her mother but also got some heart facts.

“I’ve been coming to this event for several years and it is a top notch, elegant lunch,” she said. “I’ve taken away a lot of information about my heart…I have heart issues in my family and I just want to learn as much as I can.”

Teri Ann’s owner Teri Ann Pfeffer was also at the lunch, and has been a big supporter of the event for many years.

“Teri Ann’s is all about women looking good and feeling good,” she said. “The heart thing is critical. We partnered with the hospital and the hospital heart group…We got involved…and stayed involved.”

Mayo and Goulder were two of a panel of five who answered heart questions from those at the luncheon.

One question was about supplements and heart health.

“It’s a changing face of what’s good in terms of supplements and what isn’t,” Mayo said. “If we’re going to recommend something, it must be proven by science. It’s a changing field; stay tuned for the next six months to a year.”

Tish Chichester, 33, of Marietta, said her grandmother and father having heart problems has prompted her to be more proactive about her heart.

“My grandma had a quadruple bypass about 10 years ago and my dad had a heart attack three years ago,” she said. “I thought (the luncheon) would be informative…It’s amazing to see the turnout and the people that have suffered from heart disease and they’re here and participating.”

She asked the panel about her risk of having heart disease.

Goulder said she was at an increased risk for heart disease and said that she needed to monitor her blood pressure and cholesterol, get on an exercise program and have a stress test.

Mayo said overcoming genes for any cardiac disease can be difficult, but it can be done.

“You have to be honest with yourself about you and your lifestyle and who you are,” Mayo said. “You can’t change your parents, but you can change you.”

Elsie Bowens, 75, of Reno, said she had been coming to the event for at least five years and found the heart information of good quality.

“I was taking notes and listening to everything,” she said. “I look forward to (the luncheon) every year.”

Liz Dick and Tony Goocey, both nurse practitioners with cardiology, said there are two important things to remember for the prevention of heart disease.

“Know your numbers,” Dick said, naming blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index as important numbers. “Also, being active keeps you young and heart healthy.”

Goocey agreed with being active, saying cutting out fast food is really important for a healthy lifestyle.

“We can’t stress enough that enough-be active; do an exercise program,” Goocey said, adding that “a lot of people put themselves last and everybody else first,” and with heart health it is important not to do that.

Mayo is looking forward to the future of heart care in the area and most specifically at the hospital.

“What’s up ahead? Nothing but bigger and better,” he said.

Offenberger said the heart was important in all facets of life and everyone should listen to it.

“The heart beats 2.5 billion times in our lifetime,” she said. “It’s not just an organ; our hearts are what connect us to each other…Listen to your heart, hear your heart; it could save a life and it could be yours.”