The staff at Braunschweiger Jewelers, dressed in red. Credits: Braunschweiger Jewelers
The staff at Towne Realty Group, all decked out in red. Credits: Towne Realty Group
The staff at Red Carpet Boutique dressed in red, including Roxanne Corvelli (left), co-owner; Angela Colabelli; Chelsea Saggio; and Gina Colabelli, co-owner. Credits: Red Carpet Boutique
Red Carpet Boutique is accepting $5 donations to the American Heart Association. All donors receive a red dress pin. Credits: Red Carpet Boutique
As Area Businesses Wear Red, Local Woman's Story Shows Heart Disease Can Happen to Anyone
Friday, February 1, 2013 • 4:08pm
WEST ORANGE, NJ – When Lucille Chabala of West Orange started feeling unwell last April, she never dreamed she was having a heart attack.
“There was no pain, nothing, it just came on me out of nowhere,” she said. “I started to sweat and feel nauseous. I called my husband at work and told him I didn’t feel well and I was going to call the ambulance.”
No sooner had she hung up from calling the paramedics than Chabala was on the floor.
“I was scared to death,” she said. At 76, she thought she knew what her medical concerns were. She was aware that she was overweight, she knew she had diabetes, but there is no history of heart disease in her family. That she could have a heart attack never crossed her mind.
The doctors put in a stent, and in May, Chabala had triple bypass surgery. Her doctors did what’s known as Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery (CABG), which is performed when arterial blockages are so severe that surgery is necessary to make sure the heart continues to receive adequate blood flow. Healthy veins or arteries from another part of the body are grafted to the blocked artery, allowing the blood to flow around it and into the heart.
Chabala credits St. Barnabas with saving her life, from the ambulance ride just after her heart attack through the cardiac rehabilitation exercise program she still does twice a week.
Recovery, though, took awhile. Her husband, Frank, went into the hospital to have hip replacement surgery the day she was released to go home, but her daughter, a nurse in Indiana, came to stay with her, and a team of visiting nurses helped make sure her weight and blood pressure were monitored daily. Chabala and her husband, who also is diabetic, have made changes to their diet and now watch their sugar and salt intake.
“I have such a new lease on life now,” Chabala said. “I feel so much younger and self-confident. I have motivation like I never had before. I love life.”
She’s one of the lucky ones.
According to the American Heart Association, 43 million women in the United States have heart disease, and one in three women die from it every year. That’s more than the number of women who die from every kind of cancer combined. And while for years many people considered heart disease an older man’s problem, statistics show that since 1984, more women than men die of heart disease each year.
Chabala, and millions of women like her, are the ones on everyone’s mind in the area who dressed in red today in recognition of National Wear Red Day. Started in 2003 by the American Heart Association, National Wear Red Day helps increase awareness of heart disease as a killer of women. In 2004, the AHA developed Go Red for Women, a social initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health as well as band together and collectively wipe out heart disease. According to the AHA, Go Red for Women challenges women to know their risk for heart disease and use the tools that that Go Red for Women provides to take action to reduce their personal risk.
National Wear Red day is always the first Friday in February, and this year, residents and businesses throughout the area donned their crimson threads to show their support for the cause.
Red Carpet Boutique in Millburn is actively involved with Barnabas Health’s fundraising efforts on behalf of the American Heart Association, according to co-owner Gina Colabelli. Not only did the staff dress in red, but they are accepting $5 donations to the AHA. All donors receive a red dress pin. Barnabas Health has purchased a red dress from Red Carpet that has been on display at the hospital and was raffled off. Red Carpet Boutique will be lit up in red through Valentine’s Day to further show their support.
Meanwhile, the Heart Center at St. Barnabas in Livingston is helping to educate the public on easy changes that can help everyone lower their risk of heart disease:
- Drink Green Tea. It contains antioxidants that may lower your cholesterol and blood pressure (20 ounces per day).
- Scan food labels for healthy fat. Look for monounsaturated fats in foods like olive oil, nuts, avocados and dark chocolate and polyunsaturated fats in foods like salmon, flax seed and walnuts. Limit your saturated fats and avoid all trans fats. Trans fats are often listed on food packaging labels as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil. It is generally found in cookies, crackers, baked goods and other processed foods.
- Cook Mediterranean style with olive oil. It lowers the bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases the good cholesterol (HDL). Buy cold pressed extra virgin oil.
- Get moving. Try and get 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity.
- Carve out time for sleep. Adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day.
- Fiber up your diet. Aim for 25 to 35 grams per day.
- Feast on fish. Try to limit eating red meats.
And if you ever need reminding that heart disease can strike anyone, at any time, just remember Lucille Chabala.
“Never did I dream this would happen to me,” she said. “But it did.”