By Tracey Boyd
MANHASSET, N.Y. — Portia Rindos, RN, was working as a nurse in open heart and cardiac stepdown six years ago when she began experiencing lightheadedness. After a trip to the ED, she ended up with a pacemaker. That event, and a subsequent one, resulted in the addition of two stents as well.
“I was living a very sedentary lifestyle,” she said. “I’m a nurse. I should have known what I needed to do.”
Realizing drastic changes needed to be made, Rindos adjusted the way she lived. She began eating healthy and started walking and exercising. She became so committed to good health that her neighbors and friends followed suit, she said, citing her progress and tenacity as their inspiration.
Rindos shared her story Feb. 6 as part of North Shore-LIJ Health System’s Go Red event at North Shore University Hospital to bring awareness to women’s heart health. “I just want people to know that this can happen to anyone,” she said.
Rindos’s physician, Stacey Rosen, MD, vice president, clinical services, for the health system’s Katz Institute for Women’s Health, also spoke at the event. According to Rosen, 80% to 85% of women have at least one risk factor for heart disease. She explained the importance of these kinds of events that stress the need for prevention. The key is sustainable, small steps, she said.
“When we prevent, we have so much more to offer,” Rindos said. “Small changes can make a world of difference.”
The day also included tables and exhibits that provided information on heart disease prevention and proper nutrition.
A cartoonist from The New Yorker magazine created a cartoon about heart disease prevention by taking suggestions from the audience. A mural touting the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association theme, “Life Is Why,” was set up on one wall. Attendees were encouraged to write reasons for prevention on Post-It notes and add them to the mural and to post them to Twitter.
Tracey Boyd is a regional reporter.