Area women went back to the basics Friday as they learned how to better take care of their hearts.

More than 100 women filled Stacy’s Place during the 16th annual Red Dress Luncheon, celebrating American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement. The event spreads awareness and increases education about cardiovascular disease in women.

“I want you to do your part and take care of your heart,” guest speaker Rachel Ragle, CNP, ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital, said, quoting this year’s event theme. “We need to get back to the basics and know what we can do to take better care of ourselves.”

Ragle provided those in attendance with a “very simplistic” list of things women tend to do and list of things they should do.

“We tend to put our jobs first, our families first, and there’s a lot of self-neglect,” she said.

In addition, the current times have made it easier for women — and people in general — to turn to processed foods, not find time to visit the doctor, self-medicate, be less active and live an overall more sedentary life.

Ragle offered the following steps women should take to help better take care of themselves:

• Avoid any type of first- or second-hand smoke.

• Maintain a healthy weight. As it becomes harder to do as women age, she suggested keeping a journal of the foods that are eaten and finding a friend for moral support.

• Find a long-term exercise option, such as swimming, that you can continue to do as you age.

• Do bad decisions in moderation.

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t make any bad decisions,” she said. “Just figure out how to do it in moderation.”

• Preventative care.

Learn your family’s medical history, find a doctor, schedule annual exams to keep track of glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. and know your numbers.

Understand your healthcare coverage. Ragle advised to call your insurance company or find resources – such as a caseworker at ProMedica FCH – that can help tell you what all is covered under your insurance.

“There seems to be this gap in life where we feel we are healthy and don’t need to go to the doctor,” Ragle said. “You need to go to the doctor at least once a year. It’s important to build that rapport. It’s important to have that relationship with your family doctor. We have to do a better job from a preventative care standpoint.”

Family physicians can help their patients better understand their healthcare coverage and, in knowing their family history, can help them determine what type of preventative care and screenings are necessary.

• Learn the signs.

Ragle said common heart attack warning signs are often different in women than they are in men.

While they still may experience chest pain or discomfort, women should also be aware of lightheadedness, nausea or vomiting; jaw, neck or back pain; discomfort or pain in the arm or shoulder; and shortness of breath.

“You have one life. You need to coddle it,” Ragle said. “You have to take accountability in taking care of it. Value your own life.”

In an effort to set those in attendance on the right nutritional path, a heart-healthy meal was served Friday. Provided by Greenbriar Florist and Catering, the meal consisted of a mixed green salad with candied pecans and veggies with raspberry vinaigrette dressing, a whole wheat baguette with shaved turkey and cranberry jelly and white Texas sheet cake.

The lunch was served by prominent men in the community acting as “celebrity waiters” for the event.

They included Mayor Eric Keckler, Fostoria Fire Chief Brian Herbert; Fostoria Police Chief Keith Loreno; ProMedica FCH Chief Operating Officer Tom Borer; Joseph Centa, MD, ProMedica Physicians General Surgery; William Eisenman, CNP, ProMedica Physicians Group; Michael Badik, DO, ProMedica Physician Group; Nate Perkins, Radiology director at ProMedica FCH; Rex Ruby, Physician Services rep at ProMedica; Jeff Vogel, clinical director at ProMedica Physicians Behavioral Health; Dale Anderbery, commodity merchandiser, ADM; Tim Beidelschies, MD, family practice physician; Rick Ernest, financial advisor, Edward Jones; John Irwin, financial advisor, Edward Jones; Kyle Smith, president, Financial Design Agency; Mike Holman, general manager, Blanchard River Broadcasting Co.; and Chris Widman, executive director, Good Shepherd Home.

Sashem Brey, WTVG news anchor, again emceed the event, which raises awareness of the number-one killer of women. Heart disease causes 1 in 3 deaths among women each year.

“Fortunately, we can change that, because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action,” Kerri Rose-Rochelle, AHA Community & Development director, said Friday. “Women who ‘go red’ live longer and are healthier than those who do not.”

She continued to explain ‘GO RED’ isn’t just about “rockin’ the red.” It stands for:

G — Get your numbers. Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose.

O — Own your lifestyle. Stop smoking, lose weight, stay physically active and eat healthy.

R — Raise your voice. Advocate for more women-relation research and education.

E — Educate your family with healthy food choices and own the importance of staying active, including the kids.

D — Donate. Show your support with a donation of time or money to help the AHA further its mission.

“We start by taking better care of ourselves. … When it comes to health, women often put themselves at the end of a long line of people,” Rose-Rochelle said. “We think of our children, our spouse, our parents, our brothers and sisters and even our dog and cat before we think about ourselves. But we know better. We know that to take care of those we love, we need to be healthy and strong ourselves.

“There’s always one more thing to do that bumps our own health to the bottom of our to-do list. One more load of laundry. One more soccer game. One more big project at work. One more holiday to get ready for. Then we’ll walk. Then we’ll start eating healthy. Then we’ll see our doctor. Today, let’s move something up on that list.”

For more information about AHA or the Go Red for Women movement, visit