WomenHeart Champion Honored with National Woman’s Day Red Dress Award
Woman heart disease survivor recognized for leading Spanish-language patient education and support services, raising national spotlight on heart disease in Hispanic-American women
WomenHeart Champion Mildred C. Rodriguez of Miami, FL will be honored by Woman’s Day magazine, Tuesday, February 11, 2014, for her pioneering work through WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease to raise awareness about the devastating toll of heart disease on Hispanic-American women through providing free WomenHeart patient support services, the national media, public education campaigns and Capitol Hill briefings.
WomenHeart is the first and still only national organization providing education and support to women living with heart disease – the leading cause of death in women. Rodriguez, through her work with WomenHeart, has emerged as a national voice for the Hispanic-American community on the issue of women’s heart health. Today, nearly 70% of Hispanic-American women have a least one risk factor for heart disease, but only 37% know heart disease is their leading health threat.
“We are so proud of the work Mildred has done through WomenHeart to support other women living with heart disease and making a real difference in the Hispanic-American community,” said Lisa M. Tate, CEO. “To receive the Woman’s Day Red Dress Award is a testament to her passion for helping all women live more heart healthy lives and to the work of WomenHeart.”
Rodriguez will be honored at the 11th annual Woman’s Day Red Dress Awards in New York City. She is a member of the national corps of WomenHeart Champions, women heart disease survivors trained at the WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium at Mayo Clinic to become volunteer community educators and Support Network Coordinators – leading the nation’s only peer led support program for women living with heart disease through WomenHeart.
“The Red Dress Award is a tremendous personal honor, and a fantastic opportunity to raise national awareness about the need for prevention, early and accurate diagnosis, and proper treatment of heart disease in Hispanic-American women,” said Rodriguez. “But only 37% know heart disease is their leading health threat,” she continued.
“My work as a WomenHeart Champion and Support Network Coordinator has allowed me the incredible opportunity to let all Hispanic-American women know that heart disease is very real and that they can start taking charge of their heart health today,” she added.
Just a year ago, WomenHeart launched Para la Mujer Hispana, the first national heart health educational outreach initiative to Hispanic-American women. However, after becoming a WomenHeart Champion, Rodriguez quickly took action by starting the first Spanish language WomenHeart Support Network in 2010. Since then, she has become the nation’s leading voice on heart health for Hispanic-American women through WomenHeart activities including national media, Congressional briefings, and extensive community outreach, education and support in her Miami community.
“In 1998, I was told I needed open heart surgery after I suffered a heart attack. Although I was overweight and a smoker, and although my mother had died from heart-related complications, I didn’t know that I was heading for the same outcome. I was ignorant about heart disease. And I am not alone. An overwhelming 70 percent of Hispanic-American women have at least one risk factor for heart disease, yet surveys indicate that Hispanic women are less aware of their risk factors for heart disease than Caucasian women.”
Convinced that she could have avoided her heart attack if she had been educated about heart disease, Rodriguez set out to tell Hispanic-American women what she wish she had been told about — the heart disease warning signs and risk factors, and steps to take to live a heart healthy life.
“In 2010 I started the first WomenHeart Support Network for Spanish speaking women living with heart disease in Miami. Every day I witness the power of education and support for Hispanic-American women. I am convinced that, had I found a WomenHeart Support Network right after my open heart surgery, my recovery would have been much faster and much easier.”
Rodriguez’ Support Network for Spanish speaking women exhibits at local health fairs throughout the Miami area, and she distributes Spanish-language materials to Support Network members who cannot read or write in English. In addition to spearheading patient education and support services for Hispanic-American women with heart disease, Rodriguez served as the national Hispanic-American patient voice for the Bayer Aspirin I Am ProHeart campaign, as the national spokeswoman for the Spanish language version of the DHHS Office of Women’s Health Make the Call. Don’t Miss a Beat. national public service campaign, and continues to serve as a public speaker and community educator at the local, regional and national levels.