NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) –Heart disease survivors are sharing their personal journeys with CBS2 in honor of National Wear Red Day, raising awareness about growing heart risks to women across the country.

Ruth DeMartino, of Deer Park, will celebrate her 89th birthday next month and can finally sing again, the way she did for the USO in WWII. She credits a tiny heart valve filled with pig skin for giving her back her vocal endurance.

The revolutionary, minimally-invasive device is changing the face of treating heart valve disease. It’s currently under testing at St. Francis Heart Hospital, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.

“We are not taking the old one out, we are putting a new valve on top of the old one. It is remarkable, it takes about an hour and the results have been excellent,” Dr. George Petrossian said.

“Without it, I doubt I would have had the stamina. And who knows, I maybe couldn’t have even survived,” DeMartino said.

Across Long Island, “Go Red For Women” awareness is underway, highlighting cardiovascular risks like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and weight gain.

Massapequa mother Portia Rindos, 58, almost died; she was rushed into surgery for a cardiac pacemaker and two stents.

Like others at the North Shore- LIJ Symposium, lifestyle changes, exercise and healthier eating are keeping her heart healthy.

“Especially people in my age group, we all think of our parents who have gone through these things. But you really have to get ahold of it earlier in life; that was something I just had to do. It was time for me,” Rindos said.

“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, but 80 percent of heart disease is preventable. And it is really empowering. Women should start by finding a doctor they trust, find out what their risk factors are and follow up regularly with your physician,” Dr. Stacey Rosen said.

The Go Red For Women campaign will continue throughout February, which is Heart Health Month.


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