Isabelle Weill: In 2008, I was really shocked by the story of footballer Marco Randriana, who had a heart attack on the pitch. He was saved thanks to a defibrillator - but he could never play again. Our charity helped him get back on his feet and find a new profession. Over 50,000 people die every year from cardiac problems. I said to myself, “Could you imagine saying goodbye to your spouse in the morning and them never coming home?” I had to do something to help.”
and what you have achieved in the past 10 years?
Isabelle Weill: We started off by encouraging companies to install defibrillators. I spent months and years working with private businesses and in the public sector – everywhere from gyms to schools. When I started on this project in 2008, there were only 5000 defibrillators in France, now there are over 120,000 – it’s a real victory for the charity. Previously, only 2% of the population was saved by a defibrillator, now it’s 10% - our goal is to keep that number rising!
Isabelle Weill: Something you can do – not just for yourself but also for others, is to start by downloading the app, ‘Staying Alive’ – like the Bee Gees song! It’s free and available in 18 languages. The app shows you all the defibrillators in your area and the closest one to you. It also geo-localises a team of ‘Good Samaritans’ – doctors, first aiders and emergency responders available to help whilst you wait for an ambulance. On a personal level, my advice would be to reduce the risk of a heart attack by avoiding things like smoking and taking the contraceptive pill, not doing enough exercises, or a poor diet – of course.
Isabelle Weill: People are under the assumption that heart disease only affects men. That’s not true. Cardiovascular problems are affecting more and more young women as they combine some of the biggest factors that can lead to heart problems. Young women under 25 years old that take the pill and smoke are at a higher risk from blood clots – something that most women aren’t aware of. Gynaecologists should be alerting them to the issue – or it should be mentioned in schools when covering sexual health. The lack of information and prevention in France is alarming.
Isabelle Weill: Every year, women on the pill are required to perform a blood test (in France). It’s at this moment where medical professionals can test the levels in the blood – including important factors like cholesterol. If you don’t take the pill, you can still ask for a blood test. But, if you don’t smoke, don’t take the pill, do regular exercise and eat a balanced diet, you greatly reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems.
Isabelle Weill: For the second year running, I am organising a runway show to help raise awareness about cardiovascular disease. Working with a selection of artists from different industries - celebrities, authors, musicians etc.our team this year is really diverse. There are no models in this runway show, we showcase real women of all shapes and sizes - and I’m really proud of that. Each year I call on personal contacts and have help from agencies – although most people are more than happy to help. The idea is that everyone wears red. I instantly thought of Anne Roumanoff, it’s her signature colour, so I contacted her through Linkedin and she said YES straight away! I also invited women from various medical schools this year. Moving forward, its important that our future doctors pass on the message to their patients, but I want to personally address them, "take care of you, too!"
Isabelle Weill: I agree, more young women are choosing to lead a healthier lifestyle and it’s a really encouraging trend, but I have to remember this new wave of sports fitness and healthy eating mainly affects large towns and cities. I also believe there are still large inequalities between men and women, that’s the thing that annoys me the most. The symptoms and effects of heart disease are very different between the two sexes and lesser known for women. When a man has a heart attack, 9 out of 10 times it’s his spouse that will look after his medication and organise doctor’s visits. We would assume that a man would do exactly the same for his wife in this case? No. The rate of separation/abandonment after a heart attack in women is much higher. That’s something that really plays on my mind.
Isabelle Weill: The start of April every year is ‘Red Day’- something that the media really helps support and promote. We ask women to wear red and men to wear an awareness badge as a sign of solidarity. That helps raise awareness, and we always need more.
This year, L’Exception is taking part in the RED runway show – in association with Sauvez le coeur des femmes.
A charity that holds a special place in our heart, L’Exception will also be working to help raise money – for every product purchased as part of the RED runway event , L’Exception will donate 10% of the profits to "Sauvez le coeur des femmes".
Photo credit : @Johanne Azoubel