Living From the Heart

by Sue Taggart

The “Living From the Heart” Go Red For Women Luncheon Educational Panel was one of the most heartfelt events I have had the pleasure of attending. Hosted by the American Heart Association as part of their 2013 Heart Month awareness campaign, the five distinguished speakers really laid their hearts on the line and the audience responded with unabashed enthusiasm and appreciation.

The room was energized with a sea of red—the audience really dressed the part, and the speakers were passionate and real. Panel Moderator Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, FACC, Director of Women and Heart Health Disease, Heart and Vascular Institute Lenox Hill Hospital, North Shore-LIJ Health System was an engaging speaker who is not only a renowned medical expert and passionate advocate for heart disease prevention, but she also took the time to really get to know her panel members. Her introductions, questions and commentary were as personal as they were professional. A regular guest on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and FOX, and a contributor to many online and print publications, her unique perspectives on how women can lead the healthiest lives by living from the heart can be found in her new book, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum’s Heart Book—Every Woman’s Guide to a Heart-Healthy Life.

Agapi Stassinopoulos is one of the most engaging speakers I have ever seen. Her ability to connect one-on-one with every member of the audience stems from her authenticity and genuine love of people. An audience member recently told her “you grabbed my soul”. It’s this ability to tap into our need for affection, love and nurturing that makes her so compelling. As a classically trained actress, Agapi has a larger than life presence that commands attention. Her message is simple and enduring—told from the pages of her best-selling book “Unbinding The Heart-A Dose of Greek Wisdom, Generosity and Unconditional Love, she makes us yearn for the close bond of her family, the wit and charisma of her mother, the charm of her philandering father and the support of her big sister Arianna Huffington. This “Greek Godess”, is truly one of a kind, who is not afraid to speak from the heart and inspires us all to do the same.

There is probably no one in the US who has not heard of Dr. Oz.  And now, you’ll be hearing a lot more about Lisa Oz, wife, mother of four, writer, producer, entrepreneur and mentor. Lisa is real and not afraid to talk about the challenges of a relationship with someone she has always shared with others. From when her now famous husband was a resident to today, as household name, living with a driven individual poses its own pressures. But, her ability to share her vulnerability and her candor in discussing this in public makes her someone we can all relate to.

And speaking of vulnerability, JuE Wong, CEO StriVectin Holdings Company, really laid her heart on the line. An accomplished business woman, she reminded us never to take our loved ones for granted because life is fleeting and you never know when they will be taken. Driven to succeed, she was voted a Wall Street Journal nominee for the publication’s “Top 50 Women to Watch” in 2004. JuE has held top executive positions at Cargill Inc., PepsiCo, Dial Corp, Murad Inc, NV Perricone MD Ltd and ZO Skin Health by Dr. Ogagi, before becoming CEO of StriVectin Holdings. Her husband was always urging her to take vacation time and now, after he passed away from a heart attack, she realized too late, that you cannot turn the clock back. Not wanting to be defined as someone who has lost a husband, she is still a high-powered business woman, but with balance and compassion.

What made this panel really different was the change of dialogue from one of the leading experts and patient advocates in the fields of cardiovascular disease in women and Nuclear Cardiology. Jennifer H. Mieres, MD, FACC, FASNC, FAHA talked about the need to converse with patients about their feelings, stresses and issues. The “numbers” are important, but they are only one part of the patient care. Depression, stress and anxiety can kill just as surely as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The shift in changing the dialog with women changes their lives. Dr. Mieres accomplishments would fill a book. She is a tireless activist for women and heart health and was listed as one of New York’s best doctors in 2009 and 2010 in New York magazine.

The lively panel discussion preceded the silent auction and luncheon with Keynote speaker, TV personality and Honorary Chair Star Jones. It was a reminder that we should take care of our heart every day and remember to live with our hearts in mind—to nurture our relationships with family and friends, to take time to nurture ourselves and live with a generosity of spirit.


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