Allegiance Launches Heart Disease Program
May 5, 2004
Jackson, Mich. — For more than 20 years, heart disease has been the #1 killer of women in the United States. Cardiovascular diseases claim the lives of more women each year than the next seven causes of death combined, and almost twice as many as all forms of cancer. Yet, most women believe breast cancer to be their greatest health risk. Many are not even aware of their own risk factors or the symptoms of heart disease.
Today, Allegiance Health became one of only three health systems in the state of Michigan to join a national initiative, the Women’s HeartAdvantage™, which is aimed at helping women better understand and prevent heart disease.
As part of this initiative, Allegiance Health is partnering with VHA, Inc., a national alliance of 2,200 healthcare organizations and their physicians, to begin an aggressive awareness campaign designed to educate women through their new Women's Heart Program. This program will feature extensive information about the risk factors and symptoms of heart disease, prevention through healthy lifestyles, and current medical therapies. Educational presentations and heart risk screenings are planned. Information will be available through physician offices and through a Women’s Heart Hot-line (1-888-430-4989.)
One goal of the Women’s Heart Program is to promote patient-physician communication. “We will be working closely with local physicians to encourage them to discuss risk factors and diagnostic testing with their patients,” said Cathy Glick, M.D., a Jackson cardiologist and physician champion for the program. “We will especially emphasize the need to seek immediate medical care when patients experience symptoms of a heart attack.
The Women’s Heart Program was initiated due to the results of recent research in Jackson County. Surveys of 300 women (ages 40 – 70), demonstrated that most do not know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. The majority of these women are unaware of their own risks for the disease. Some 55% of the participants who have at least one risk factor (e.g. high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, family history, or at least 20 pounds over their ideal weight) do not perceive themselves at risk.
"Our challenge is to get women to act," said Dr. Glick. "The problem is that women are delaying seeing their physicians or visiting the hospital’s emergency department when experiencing symptoms of a heart attack. In this campaign, we're giving women tools to help them be more assertive in seeking rapid and appropriate care. We’re also educating our physicians about their role in treating and preventing heart disease in women.
"Heart disease claims more female lives than any other disease, and every year since 1984, more women than men have died of cardiovascular disease," said Rose Marie Robertson, M.D., president of the American Heart Association. "We believe that combining our efforts with VHA Inc. and their institutions, such as Foote Hospital, will strengthen our fight against heart disease in women."
For more information on the Women's Heart Program at Allegiance Health, please call 1-888-430-4989