"Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American women,"
Mrs. Blagojevich said. "By raising awareness about heart disease in
women and teaching women how they can lower their risk of having a
heart attack, we can help them lead longer and healthier lives."
At the event on Friday, Illinoisan Valeria Werner, a heart attack
survivor, talked about her experience with heart disease and the
importance of leading a heart-healthy life. Part of leading a
heart-healthy life includes making sure to eat healthy. J. Hugh
McEvoy, American Culinary Federation certified executive chef, and
Virginia Erwin, president and founder of Ginetics -- a nutrition,
wellness and fitness consulting business -- demonstrated different
ways to cook healthy meals.
Physical activity is also important when it comes to staying
healthy. In fact, physically active women have approximately 60
percent to 75 percent lower risk of heart disease than women who are
not physically active. The East Bank Club helped enforced that
message with a few fitness demonstrations for the crowd.
The event was in conjunction with National Wear Red Day, when
women and men are encouraged to wear red as a sign of support for
awareness of women's heart disease. The
Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, sponsor of the national Feb. 3
observance, provided all female members of the Illinois General
Assembly with red dress pins for National Wear Red Day. The
institute is part of the National Institutes of Health and provides
leadership for a national program in diseases of the heart, blood
vessels, lung and blood; blood resources; and sleep disorders.
The Illinois first lady kicked off Women's Healthy Heart Month on
Wednesday by illuminating the Merchandise Mart with red lights. The
Merchandise Mart will be lit in red every evening throughout the
month of February to raise awareness about heart disease in women
and to honor those whose lives have been affected by it.
Award-winning actress Jane Seymour and Christopher Kennedy, the
president of Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., joined the first lady
for the lighting.
"I was astounded to learn that almost nine times more women die
of heart disease than breast cancer each year," said Jane Seymour.
"I'm currently working with the California Pistachio Commission to
help spread awareness about heart disease and how it can affect so
many women. As a woman, daughter, sister and mother of two girls, I
realize how this issue could easily touch my own life. I was honored
to join the first lady of Illinois, Mrs. Patti Blagojevich, and
Christopher Kennedy to light up the Merchandise Mart in red to
celebrate American Heart Month."
"Every year, heart disease takes the lives of our mothers, wives,
sisters and daughters," said Chris Kennedy, president of Merchandise
Mart Properties Inc. "We are proud to partner with Jane Seymour and
First Lady Patti Blagojevich to help raise awareness about this
deadly disease. By illuminating the Merchandise Mart each night
during the month of February, we can help remind women to take the
right steps toward living longer and healthier lives."
[to top of second column]
There are many factors that can increase the chance
of developing heart disease. While some risk factors can't be
controlled, like age, family medical history and race, there are
several that can be controlled.
As important as it is to know the risk factors of
heart disease, it's also important to know the warning signs of a
heart attack. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most of
them start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people
affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting
help. Here are some of the signs that can mean a heart attack is
discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
Shortness of breath
Sometimes palpitations, dizziness, cold sweat, nausea or
If someone experiences one or more of these warning
signs, don't wait longer than five minutes before calling for help.
Call 911 and get that person to a hospital.
During Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich's administration, the
Illinois Department of Public Health's Office of Women's Health has
continued to administer three specific cardiovascular programs:
Heart Smart for Women, Heart Smart for Teens and the Illinois
"We are making great strides in addressing women's
health issues with the support and commitment of Governor
Blagojevich," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health
director. "The work he has done has allowed us to aggressively
respond to women's health concerns, like heart disease, with
educational tools, high blood pressure and cholesterol screenings,
and implementation of programs that make a difference."
Heart Smart for Women is a 12-week education program
where participants learn the benefits of exercise and nutrition as
well as how to reduce their cardiovascular risk. Last year more than
2,300 women participated in the program, and more than 60 percent of
those women reported improved nutrition or physical activity levels.
Heart Smart for Teens is a nine-week education
program to educate adolescent girls about the risk factors of
cardiovascular disease and teach them the importance of a healthy
diets and physical activity. Last year more than 2,100 girls
completed the program, and almost 70 percent of those girls reported
improved knowledge about nutrition and physical activity.
The Illinois WISEWOMAN Program is designed to help
women reduce their risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
through screenings, physical activity and healthy eating habits.
This research program is offered in 20 Illinois counties and targets
women in the Illinois Breast and Cervical Program.
For more information on heart disease or women's
health issues, visit
www.idph.state.il.us or call 1 (888) 522-1282.
[News release from the governor's