Vestido Rojo aims to motivate, teach women about living heart-healthy lives

Free women's health conference to be held Saturday at La Villita

By Stephanie Serna - Reporter, Tim Stewart - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - Vestido Rojo helps mothers, sisters and friends work together to fight heart disease.  

The program offers blood pressure checks, heart-healthy cooking workshops and workout sessions.

In its 14th year, Vestido Rojo started in San Antonio and has expanded to 17 programs across various states.

"It's a very exciting event," said Nora Silva, American Heart Association senior director of community impact. "It has a sisterhood feel to it. It has a 'comadre' feel to it. Women are table hosts, so they bring family members and friends and co-workers."

Vestido Rojo has grown from a few participants to more than 1,000 and started as an outreach to Hispanic/Latina women. 

Silva said the women were not getting vital information about heart disease and stroke, so Vestido Rojo was a fun way to get the word out.

"It's that personal connection to other women and making better decisions about our health together, alongside others," Silva said. "And I think that's some of the feedback we've gotten, is that they don't feel they're alone and it's exciting. It's a girls' day out. They get to wear their best red (dress)."

Participants get free health screenings, participate in workshops, eat a healthy lunch and exercise.

"Sometimes we do Zumba, some variation of physical activity," Silva said. "And of course, Zumba is one of the favorites. But really, we focus on diabetes prevention, stress management and blood pressure management."

Silva said Vestido Rojo hits close to home. Silva's father had a stroke a few years ago. She said understanding risk factors can help women make better choices for themselves and their families.

"One of the things that led me to Vestido (Rojo), sort of guided me, 'What would resonate with my mom? What would resonate with my aunts? What would resonate with my sisters?' Because ultimately, if something happens like in the case of my dad, my mom had to respond to that and recognize those signs and symptoms."

Vestido Rojo is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at La Villita.

The event is free, but you have to register to attend by calling 210-810-3094 or online.

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