Pittsburgh among worst heart healthy in country

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Heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases claim the lives of more than 450,000 women each year in the country. Sixty-five women a day die of heart disease or stroke in Pennsylvania alone. The greatest health threat to women of all ethnic backgrounds are heart disease or stroke and 21 percent of the women are not even aware of these statistics.

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BREAKFAST SPEAKERS—Dr. Jeannette South-Paul, Angela Ford and Linda Cawthon Griffon at the AHA Go Red For Women Executive Breakfast.

That is why The American Heart Association launched their National Go Red For Women Campaign in February 2004 which provides information and educates women of all ethnic backgrounds and of all ages to turn personal choices into life saving actions, such as diet, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and abstinence from smoking. Some other risks the Go Red For Women Campaign says to pay attention to are high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, obesity or overweight, diabetes.

That is why the American Heart Association held their Go Red For Women Executive Breakfast at the University Club in Oakland on Nov. 4. A few powerful women in the media, in medicine, and in law came and spoke to a room full of women to share their personal stories with them. Such as Sally Wiggin of WTAE-TV, the emcee, with her story on her own battle with heart disease. The Hon. Judy Olson newly elected to the state Superior Court telling the story of her daughter’s battle with a rare form of heart disease and surgeries (critical aortic and mitral valve stenosis at birth).

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BREAKFAST GUESTS—Crystal McCormick; Angela Ford; Sally Wiggins; Judge Judy Olson;, Heart disease survivor Nikki Coffee; Jean Ferketish, Ph.D; and Carol Mohamed at the AHA Go Red For Women Executive Breakfast at the University Club in Oakland.

Stressing the importance of women maintaining a healthy weight, Dr. Jeannette South-Paul, chair, Department of Family Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Go Red For Women co-chair, says, “Weight plays an important part in warding off heart disease and if you have heart disease, weight management helps to keep things in check where heart disease is already manifested.” South-Paul urged women to help take care of each other by telling their friends and families to pay attention to their bodies and warning signs of weight, exercise and not smoking or quitting smoking, as South Paul uses a famous saying, “It takes a village to take care of one person, as it is hard for a woman to maintain a healthy lifestyle in today’s world.”

As the last speaker at the breakfast, secretary of the board of trustees and assistant chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, and Go Red For Women Conference co-chair Jean Ferketish, Ph.D, said Pittsburgh is the fourth least heart healthy city in the United States. Telling the women in the room and South-Paul, Ferketish says, “30 percent of my patients who are pregnant still smoke and the focus is on getting the word out and educating women about the importance of being conscious of a healthy heart.”

(To find out more information or to find out if you are at risk you can go online to http://www.goredforwomen.org or call 1-888-MY-HEART.)

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