Fairbanks community highlights heart health in women at annual luncheon

Published: Mar. 25, 2023 at 12:24 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Members of the Interior Alaska community gathered on March 24 at the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel and Conference Center to bring awareness to women’s heart health.

The annual Go Red Luncheon, now in its 20th year, brings together businesses and organizations to raise support for healthy living.

Speakers at the event included Focus-ologist Penny Zenker and Karen Blackburn with the American Heart Association.

Between a photo booth and various tables for local businesses, Foundation Health Partners (FHP) gave advice about how to recognize symptoms of a stroke. According to Nellie Toy at the FHP booth, when exhibiting symptoms of a possible stroke, “Time is of the essence. From the last time you were seeing well, we need you in the emergency room in under four hours, and if we can get that medicine onboard, we can reverse the long-term effects of stroke, but that’s a narrow window.”

“Our problem is that people stay at home and think, ‘Oh, I’ll get better. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow,’ and then they’re no longer within that window that we can actively treat,” Toy explained.

The American Heart Association is nearing its 100th year of operation, Go Red for Women its 20th.

With the theme of “Be the Beat,” this event highlighted disparities in healthcare between men and women. Speakers highlighted the underrepresentation of women in research about heart disease.

They also noted that heart disease and stroke kills more women than all forms of cancer combined. Healthy living is a way to prevent this outcome.

Jenny Gilbertson, co-founder of the PWR House in Fairbanks, explained. “Go Red for Women is something that was started 20 years ago to really shift the focus of heart health onto women.”

Her fellow co-founder Stephanie Woodard said, “Through the American Heart Association’s hard work, research and many years, we’ve learned that it is a well-rounded thing for women’s health. It’s not just what you eat. It’s not just your physical fitness. It’s your mental health, and the American Heart Association does an amazing job of putting that all together and really showcasing that when they have these events.”