Importance of heart health driven home by preteen

Lauren Shields shared her story of survival from heart disease at the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women Luncheon in Greenwich. She received a heart transplant in March 2009.

Lauren Shields shared her story of survival from heart disease at the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women Luncheon in Greenwich. She received a heart transplant in March 2009.

The guest speaker at the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women Luncheon captured the hearts of nearly 500 in attendance as she shared her journey to health as a heart transplant survivor.

Twelve-year-old Lauren Shields stood atop a step-stool to reach the podium microphone, but there wasn’t a bigger presence in the room, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

A Stony Point resident, Lauren told the truth about heart disease — the nation’s number one killer — that it can happen to any woman, young or old.

Lauren is also an advocate for organ donation. New York State’s “Lauren’s Law” is named after her. The law will require anyone over the age of 18 getting a new driver’s license to answer whether they would like to join the state’s organ donor list. The question is currently optional.

“I was happy to speak at the luncheon and thankful to support the American Heart Association because I know I am standing here today because of heart research. I hope women take care of their hearts,” Lauren said.

The Go Red For Women Luncheon highlights women’s number one killer — heart disease. The luncheon was presented by the AHA and signature sponsor, Webster Bank and cause sponsor, Stamford Hospital.

“According to the AHA, there has been a 21% decrease in deaths related to heart disease in women since the launch of Go Red ten years ago,” said Kathy Silard, COO and executive vice president of Stamford Hospital who spoke at the luncheon. “We celebrate this success while recognizing that challenges remain—many women still do not take heart disease seriously and personally. We must all remain committed to continue to build awareness among women to educate and motivate them to take action for heart health.”

The luncheon caps off a month-long celebration of the AHA’s Go Red For Women 10th Anniversary. Luncheons around the country are held to raise awareness among women and provide them with tools to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke — the number one and four causes of death among women. Cardiovascular diseases claim about 432,000 lives each year, or nearly one death each minute — ten times more women than breast cancer. Yet, only one in five women believes that heart disease is her greatest health threat.

Funds raised support the AHA’s life-saving work including public and professional education programs, awareness and advocacy initiatives like the CPR in Schools Bill which will ensure that all students receive CPR training prior to graduation. The AHA’s funding of scientific research is second only to the U.S. government. The AHA is currently funding 372 new and continuing researchers in the eight-state Founders Affiliate for a value of $82,732,146.

To make a donation to support the AHA’s women’s heart health initiatives, visit heart.org/westfairgoredluncheon. To join advocacy efforts, visit SupportCPRinSchools.org.

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