D        espite rapid advances in medication and a wealth of information on how to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States. About 2,400 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day—an average of one death every 37 seconds. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, if all forms of cardiovascular disease were eliminated, the average life expectancy in this country would rise by seven years!

    St. Louisans can help ensure community access to advanced cardiac technology, treatments and education by attending ‘An Evening of Heart & Soul,’ a benefit for St. Luke’s Hospital, Saturday, May 15, at The Sheldon Concert Hall. The event, presented by Friends of St. Luke’s, is a fundraiser for the hospital’s Robert Paine, MD Heart Institute. “The Heart Institute offers state-of-the-art diagnostic, interventional and surgical cardiac procedures, heart disease prevention programs and rehabilitation programs for patients diagnosed with cardiovascular disease,” explains Sue Adams, executive director of development for St. Luke’s Hospital. “Proceeds from the gala will help us construct a high-tech, hybrid operating suite. The suite’s design and equipment will provide diagnostic imaging and surgery in the same room, which means fewer delays for patients. It also enables physicians to look at patients’ blood vessel anatomy in ways that improve minimally invasive treatments for vascular disease.”

    Founder of the cardiology department at St. Luke’s, Dr. Robert Paine was a pioneer in developing cardiology as a sub-specialty. “He introduced innovative models of patient care, and established medical residency training,” Adams says. “His influence led to extraordinary advances in cardiac education, research, technology and treatment options, not only at St. Luke’s but throughout the region.”

    Co-chairing the event are Jan Potts and Toni Leidenfrost, longtime members of  Friends of  St. Luke’s. “The Heart Institute is committed to wellness and prevention and has a longstanding tradition of exceptional patient-physician relationships,” Potts says. A clear strength of the Institute, Leidenfrost adds, is its alliance of multi-disciplinary specialists who coordinate care and clinical services, from prevention and diagnosis through treatment and rehabilitation. “St. Luke’s is a nationally recognized leader in cardiovascular services, and we’ll continue to focus on attracting and retaining outstanding physicians,” she says. “The Institute also has a strong commitment to educating our community about heart disease in women, which often goes unrecognized until it’s too late.”

    St. Luke’s Hospital, founded in 1866, has been recognized as one of America’s 50 best hospitals four years in a row by HealthGrades, an independent healthcare ratings company. “The designation recognizes hospitals that have demonstrated superior clinical quality over a seven-year period, based on survival rates and lower complication rates,” Adams says.

    Providing soul to the ‘Heart & Soul’ gala is international music legend Dionne Warwick. Four ticket options are available, ranging from $50 to priority seating at $750, which includes valet service, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, Warwick’s performance, a dessert reception with the artist and event program recognition. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.

    “Dress is casual, but feel free to wear your disco garb for the cocktail reception, which has a Soul Train theme,” Leidenfrost says. “Come join us! It’s going to be a blast.” 

On the Cover: ‘An Evening of Heart & Soul,’ featuring Grammy Award-winning singer Dionne Warwick, takes place May 15 at The Sheldon Concert Hall. The event, presented by Friends of St. Luke’s, benefits the Robert Paine, M.D. Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Hospital. Tickets range from $50 (concert only) to $750. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. For more information, visit www.stlukes-stl.com/gala or call 576-2345.