New Program Aims to Give Women Heart Advantage

If you knew you had a problem threatening your life, chances are you'd do something about it.

That's the idea behind Stormont-Vail's Women's Heart Advantage Program.

Millions of women could be overlooking heart disease as a potential killer. Diane Oelke and her mother Pat Wheeler are an exception among women. Because of their family history, they know heart problems know no gender. Still, Diane admits, that doesn't mean she focuses much on it.

"I do exercise and am trying to eat the right foods, but that doesn't always happen," she laughs.

That's where nurse Carol Bragdon and the Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center come in. They're reaching out to women like Diane and Pat.

"Women are more likely to die of heart disease than the other seven leading causes of death in women," said Bragdon, ARNP.

Bragdon is heading up the Women's Heart Advantage Program. It aims to educate women about heart disease. It also lets them sign up for an hour and a half long personal assessment of their heart disease risk.

"We'll look at things like age, family history," Bragdon said. "We'll do a physical exam. We'll look at cholesterol levels, both good cholesterol and bad cholesterol."

All of those factors earn points on the "Framingham Risk Assessment." Added up, it gives women their odds of having a heart attack in the next ten years.

From that, Bragdon helps women develop a plan to help women lower their risk or keep it low.

Diane says she wants to know her number.

"If it's something that I know down the road could happen, I think knowledge is better than not knowing," she said.

Pat already took one huge step 25 years ago. She quit smoking when her father-in-law had a heart attack. Today, she reminds her daughter the importance of being healthy.

"She has two children herself she needs to take care of, so she needs to take care of herself so she can be there for them," Pat said.

Pat and Diane are also a good support of each other. They take jazzercise together three nights a week.

You can sign up your mom or yourself for a Women's Heart Advantage Risk Assessment. It costs $55. Call the Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center at 270-4HER. Information is also available online at www.youknowusbyheart.org.


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