Castle Pines resident Sara McCaslin at the “Go Red for Women” event at the Park Meadows Retail Resort last month. McCaslin, who is an American Heart Association volunteer and heart attack survivor speaks to groups to raise awareness about heart disease. Outfitted in a new red geometric-pattern dress (compliments of Macy’s), she shared her story and listened to the questions and experiences of others whose lives have been touched by heart disease.
By Lisa Crockett; photos by Cindy Cranstone
Heart disease takes the lives of one in three women – a toll higher than all forms of cancer combined. Every year, the American Heart Association (AHA) and Macy’s Department stores host “Go Red” events nationwide to help raise awareness and give women a place to share their stories. Castle Pines resident Sara McCaslin, an AHA volunteer, shared her story at the local Go Red event last month at Macy’s at Park Meadows Mall.
A generally healthy, fit and young person, McCaslin didn’t know what to think two years ago when she was suddenly in the grips of intense pain in her chest. Though she had several classic heart attack symptoms – pain in her back and left arm, as well as cold sweats and nausea, McCaslin said that she couldn’t believe she was having a heart attack.
“I always thought of heart attacks affecting older men,” said McCaslin. “Even though I knew something was very wrong, a heart attack didn’t fit into my pre-conceived notions of who would have one.”
At the insistence of her husband and daughter, McCaslin went to the emergency room, and just four hours after her arrival in the hospital, underwent open-heart surgery. Doctors were able to fully repair her condition, which is called SCAD (spontaneous coronary artery dissection), which causes an inner layer of the coronary artery to split. The condition is often fatal, a sobering fact which has spurred McCaslin to reach out to other women.
“There’s a reason I survived,” she said. “I want to tell other women, ‘If something doesn’t feel right, go get it checked out.’ Sometimes women ignore their symptoms or don’t take them seriously; for some women a heart attack might only cause jaw pain or back pain. If I had been home alone that day, I may have delayed going to the doctor, which could have cost me my life.”
McCaslin now serves as an AHA volunteer, helping women recognize when they may be having a heart attack. Sometimes she speaks to groups, and other times she greets people one-on-one like she did at the Go Red event. “When I go to events like Go Red and speak, I think I’m putting a face on heart disease,” she said. “People of all ages and all walks of life are affected.”
For more information about Go Red, visit www.goredforwomen.org.
Castle Pines resident Jennifer Halvas modeled her “swag bag” on the red carpet of the “Go Red for Women” event at the Park Meadows Retail Resort last month.