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Meet the 2019 Red Dress Awards Honorees
Chief medical correspondent, ABC News and Good Morning America; American Heart Association volunteer
Dr. Ashton uses her national platform to make the cardiovascular health of American women a priority, spearheading TV segments on topics such as the lifesaving benefits of CPR and how to manage high blood pressure. As a practicing ob-gyn with a father who is a cardiologist, she offers a unique heart perspective to viewers and patients. “I grew up discussing heart attacks as dinner table conversation,” says Dr. Ashton, who is working to highlight the connection between heart health and reproductive health both in her ob-gyn practice and on a national level. In September 2019 she moderated “Your Heart Is a Lady Part,” a panel hosted by the American Heart Association and Woman’s Day, and this year she’s investigating the rising maternal mortality rates in the U.S. for in-depth TV segments that will air on ABC. (The leading cause of pregnancy-related death is cardiovascular disease, she notes.) Dr. Ashton also is board-certified in obesity medicine and has her master’s in nutrition, which enables her to counsel women on diet, weight management, and other lifestyle changes.
Her health tip:“Know that your heart is a muscle and it needs to be exercised.”
President of health care operations for Ascension Health, the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S.
A registered nurse by training, Springer moved up the ranks to become CEO of Saint Thomas Health (part of Ascension) in Nashville, TN. While serving as CEO—and overseeing nine hospitals, 97 primary care clinics, and more—she teamed up with the nonprofit Women’s Heart Alliance last year to launch Caring for the Caregiver, an initiative that focuses on improving the cardiovascular health of nurses and other medical professionals by offering a free health screening, blood work, education, and a follow-up with a personal health coach. “As nurses, we often put our personal needs aside to provide for others,” says Karen, who had high blood pressure and high cholesterol herself and started a heart health transformation alongside her staff members. Over the course of six months, she lost 60 pounds and now no longer takes medication for blood pressure and cholesterol. “At Ascension, we want to change how health care is delivered by focusing on wellness and prevention, and I knew I needed to lead by example,” she says.
Her health tip:“A standing desk helps me improve posture, breathe better, and move more.”
The leading wearables brand helps Americans get moving
Fitbit has sold more than 70 million fitness trackers to date and as a result has a community of millions of engaged users supporting one another on their health journeys to become more active and sleep better—key factors for better heart health. “Small steps can lead to big results, making it possible for almost everyone to reach their goals,” says James Park (above), cofounder and CEO. Not only is Fitbit a motivational tool for millions, but it’s actually helping experts better understand and improve the way disease is prevented and treated. Fitbit devices have been used in more than 500 published studies and are currently being used for research in areas such as cardiovascular health and diabetes.
His health tip:Everyone is different, so set an achievable goal that you can reach, then build on that as you get stronger.”
Associate professor of medicine and director of cardiovascular disparities, Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City
Dr. Fergus, a cardiologist, has made it her mission to level the heart health playing field. “Typically, your genetic, social, and ethnic background predicts future cardiovascular health, but with good lifestyle interventions, you can change the outcome,” she says. To that end, in 2012 she cofounded the Harlem Healthy Hearts Series, a monthly workshop offering education and support for heart disease prevention and management. Ninety percent of participants are women, and since its inception, it’s helped attendees manage blood pressure and improve quality of life. Dr. Fergus has also been an investigator in clinical trials and focuses her research on heart disease in women, hypertension, and heart failure.
Her health tip:"Positivity is good for your heart. Try to look for the light and find a happy moment each day.”
Top Chefhead judge, food policy activist; filmmaker, social justice activist
Tom and Lori are fighting for a healthier America. “Our entire nation benefits when everyone eats well,” says Tom. They exposed the economic cost of poor nutrition through the documentary Silverbush codirected,A Place at the Table. “Illnesses like heart disease are often viewed as an inevitable by-product of aging, but a high-quality diet can keep us healthy long into old age,” says Lori. “We’re advocating for common sense policy that would make good quality food available to everyone, not just the lucky few.”
Their health tip:“Tom works late, so we sit down for family breakfast,” says Lori.
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