That finding illustrates just one
reason that Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital is partnering with
Memorial Health System's two other hospitals, Memorial Medical
Center in Springfield and St. Vincent Memorial Hospital in
Taylorville, in a national program designed to educate women about
the prevalence of heart disease. The Women's HeartAdvantage program
is being launched this month.
"Women's heart disease is perhaps the
most overlooked and misunderstood health risk in America, killing
more women and devastating more families than the next eight causes
of death combined," said Dr. Paul Kasa, president of the medical
staff at ALMH.
The goal of the Women's HeartAdvantage
program is "to reduce the number of women who die from heart disease
in the communities we serve," Kasa said. "We plan to do this through
education, risk identification and early intervention."
Women who want to learn more about the
risk factors can call (877) 217-7883 toll-free and request a free
comprehensive information kit with a step-by-step guide to determine
their risk of heart disease and how to develop a healthy lifestyle.
Kits can also be requested through Memorial Health System's site at
Helping women recognize the need to
discuss their risk factors with physicians is an important step
because many women don't believe that heart disease is an issue for
them. "The general perception is that men, not women, die of heart
attacks," said Dr. Melissa Hardiek, an internist with Lincoln Health
However, every year since 1984 more
women than men have died of heart disease. Some 9 million American
women of all ages suffer from heart disease. About 500,000 women
suffer heart attacks each year, and that same number die from
cardiovascular disease annually, according to the American Heart
Association. Further, 42 percent of all women who have heart attacks
died within a year, compared with 21 percent of men.
Most female heart attack patients have
symptoms for hours, days, even weeks before their heart attacks.
They fail to recognize the symptoms as serious, Hardiek said.
The kit provides women with information
on how to recognize the signs of a heart attack, which can be
different than men's symptoms, and includes details on how to
identify their risk factors and what steps they can take to lower
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"The number of women who die from heart
disease will continue to rise unless we take action," Hardiek said.
"Through Women's HeartAdvantage, our call to action is one of
raising women's awareness and assertiveness about the problem of
Women should know and recognize
symptoms of a heart attack. While there are classic symptoms, women
can experience other symptoms, including nausea, shortness of breath
and fatigue. They should be assertive in creating a dialogue with
their physicians about how to deal with their risk factors.
Before launching Women's HeartAdvantage,
Memorial Health System commissioned Market Strategies Inc. to
interview 300 women from Logan, Sangamon, Christian, Menard and
Morgan counties. All were from 40 to 70 years old. The research
revealed a real disconnect for women and heart disease.
The findings included the following:
--Nearly three out of four women (72
percent) in central Illinois would prefer to talk to their doctors
about their risk for heart disease, but less than a third (29
percent) have actually talked to their doctors. Only one in five (20
percent) have expressed concern to their doctors about their own
--Of those surveyed, 42 percent
perceived breast cancer to be the leading cause of death among
women; only 30 percent believed cardiovascular disease was the No. 1
cause. In reality, breast cancer accounts for 4 percent of all
female deaths across the nation; heart disease accounts for 50
percent of all female deaths.
"Every year, heart disease claims the
lives of tens of thousands of mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers
and other loved ones," Kasa said. "The good news is that we can
reduce that number by reducing cardiac risk factors and educating
women now. We want the women of the communities we serve to take
charge of their health. Nothing could be more important than being
armed with the knowledge to confront heart disease."
Memorial Health System are participating in Women's HeartAdvantage
through their membership in VHA Inc., a nationwide alliance of 2,200
community hospitals. VHA launched
HeartAdvantage as a test program at Yale-New Haven Hospital in
March 2001. This year, Memorial Health System joins more than 80
hospitals nationwide in this initiative.