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Senior Moment | A moment for Women's Heart Health at "Hearts, Hats and Heels"

Michele LeBlanc recently attended the Hearts, Hats, and Heels "lunch and learn" at the hospital. Here she shares some of the things she learned in hopes that the information will help you, too!
Michele LeBlanc with Tinker Lanier (Right; Marketing Manager OAH).

Garbed in our favorite ‘RED’ on Monday, February 26, 2024, East Georgia Regional Medical Center hosted an elegant complimentary ‘LUNCH & LEARN’ for Statesboro, Bulloch County, and surrounding areas to teach us ‘How we take care of our Hearts at Home!’

Jennifer Smith (Left: Volunteer) and her Mother (Right) at lunch. Jaime Riggs

Just a couple of ‘Heart Facts’:

  • February 1964 was the 1st ‘American Heart’ month. “President Lyndon B. Johnson urged the people of the United States to give heed to the nationwide problem of the heart and blood vessel disease and to support the program required to bring about this solution.”
  • In 2004, the ‘Go Red For Women' campaign launched ‘National Wear Red Day’ on the 1st Friday in February.
  • The good news is 87% of all heart issues are believed to be preventable, making awareness, education, research and resources vital.

The EGRMC community believes in giving back to and educating Statesboro and its surrounding areas. Bryan Realiza, Quality Manager of Chest Pain and Stroke Programs for the hospital says, “The goal of this event is to educate the community about the prevalence of heart disease in women.”

Prior to the featured speakers, a delicious heart-healthy lunch was served. The menu included a buffet of spinach salad with grilled peaches, blueberries, tomatoes and feta; grilled tilapia, balsamic seasoned flank steak, rosemary roasted sweet potatoes, and vegetable stuffed zucchini. YUM -- healthy AND tasty! Dessert kept to the theme with healthy brownies (made with applesauce) and sugar free ice cream. Impressive!

View of Room with 50 guests. Michele LeBlanc

Stephen Pennington, CEO of EGRMC, graciously welcomed and introduced the program saying, “The major takeaway point is to understand how to take care of your heart and recognize symptoms of stroke. Try to tell 20-30 people about it so that we can increase community education.”

Realiza, before introducing the guest speakers Dr. Richard Petrella, MD, FACP, FACC, FSCAI, FSVM (Cardiology); Tanya Eagle, Director of Cardiovascular Services; and Angela Hammond, Cardiac Rehab Coordinator Nurse, said, “Many people do not know that women in our community have a higher rate of cardiovascular death than men. Caucasian women over 40 have the highest rate, followed by African-American women. This is data that we track and trend at our hospital. Because of this, we wanted to host an event targeted towards women, to bring awareness to a disease that is greatly affecting our community.”

Dr. Petrella is a board certified Interventional Cardiologist, specializing in the functions and disorders of the heart and circulatory systems.

Dr Richard Petrella ,MD FACP FACC FSCAI FSVM (speaker). Jaime Riggs

“There are many risk factors for heart disease, some you can control, others you can't. There are ways to manage your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, diet and weight exercise levels and whether or not you smoke or drink, but you CAN’T change your age, family history, race, or gender," Dr Petrella said,

“Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, increasing your risk of a heart attack and stroke. Women have a higher risk for cardiovascular disease due to several reasons including that heart disease is sometimes under-recognized and under-treated in women. Other factors include hormonal fluctuations and diabetes. Stress and depression can trigger a heart attack."

He added, “Be proactive, eat a healthy diet, exercise, get enough sleep, and manage stress. Quit smoking and talk with your doctor about alcohol consumption."  

Tonya Eagle spoke about Emergency Cardiac Care Center significance and about the faculty and how they serve the outlying population after they have been transferred from other counties.

Helen Jackie Yates (Left; Volunteer) with Jaime Riggs (Right; Director of Marketing EGRMC). Jaime Riggs

Did you know PARTNERSHIPS are a big part of the heart health of our community! Working together are EGRMC + GSU + the YMCA + the Splash in the Boro-Aquatic Center.

Statesboro Family YMCA Executive Director Hannah Beggs shared, “I believe ‘Partnerships’ like this make Statesboro so amazing. When Realiza came to me with the idea to collaborate with East Georgia and Georgia Southern, it was a no-brainer. We are able to help those in the community with our FREE cardiac rehab phase 3 Program and giving internships to students so they can have hands-on experience."

Rebecca (Becca) R. Collins, MS, ACSM-EP, Senior Lecturer of Exercise Science at GSU and Director of the Phase Three Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at the Y said, ”We have so many wonderful partnerships and programs our community needs to know more about. We work together and provide healthy opportunities and education. I'm glad we are able to share resources to help those who have experienced heart attacks and strokes get back to living healthy, active lives -- including the ‘state of the art’ cath lab at the hospital and phase 2 rehabilitation program, the FREE Phase 3 cardiac rehabilitation program and exercise classes at the YMCA, and the Splash Aquatics Center."

Beth Sands, water fitness instructor at Splash shared, "The FIRST step is the hardest! Aqua-fit, bikes, flotation devices, arthritis therapy are just a few of the programs available. Walk on deck. NO regrets!"

EGRMC also introduced an email series this month called ‘Leap into Heart Health,’ which is filled with tips to help boost and reduce the risk of heart disease You can find it here:

Thank you, EGRMC (and partners!) for sharing and bringing awareness to our community.

Making this a ‘HEART HEALTHY’ Senior Moment!