SAN ANTONIO – February is American Heart Month, and Friday is National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about heart disease. To get the message out to women, the American Heart Association is hosting its 15th annual Vestido Rojo Conference on Feb. 29.
This year will mark Patricia Atiee's 14th year volunteering with the Vestido Rojo Conference.
Atiee said the conference is a great and fun way to get heart health information to women.
“We want the women to get the message because cardiovascular disease takes the lives of one in three women,” she said. “So, imagine, that’s one-third of your mothers, your sisters, your friends, and we need them to know that they need to take care of themselves.”
The message is something that hits close to home for Atiee. Since the age of 24, Atiee has had heart problems, and at 29, she had open-heart surgery.
"I want to help women be survivors like myself," Atiee said. "This year, I'm actually celebrating my 30th year as a survivor, so I'm very happy."
Atiee said the goal of the conference is for everyone to be aware of the warning signs so that participants can take care of themselves and their families.
Last year, Vestido Rojo participant Eloisa Guerrero recognized her symptoms after the conference and went to the emergency room right away.
"In the past, (Guerrero) said, ‘I would have blown off those symptoms.’ But she said, ‘I knew something wasn't right, and everything that I've heard, I remembered. And I don't want to wait and I went to the ER right away,’” Atiee said, referring to a conversation with Guerrero. "And sure enough, she did need help."
Guerrero ended up needing a pacemaker and is doing much better today.
Guerrero will also be attending this year’s Vestido Rojo Conference.