UI health officials to amp up heart health education for women


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Women are suffering from a "silent epidemic" — heart disease.

University of Iowa health officials plan to end the silence by creating a women's health program, set to launch in around six months.

"I'm hoping — of course I'm hoping — I'm hoping that we can identify women [with heart disease]," said Jennifer Long, clinical director for the UI Heart and Vascular Center. "As we kick this off full-time, we'll have a program focused on women to come to and provide more education at that time."

The UI Heart and Vascular Center is collaborating with the Gynecology Department to identify women who may be at risk through surveys.

Long said the survey asks about four or five different questions, and if officials identify a heart disease risk, they will recommend the patient see someone in the heart center.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in the United States, killing 420,000 women, Long said. That accounts for about 32 percent of all female deaths in Iowa, according to the American Heart Association.

According to a recent article in USA Today, women are less likely to get immediate heart attack treatment and are more likely to die in the hospital.

Tate said one reason is women often delay calling 911, 50 percent more than men, mainly because they do not realize they are having a heart attack.

Many women mistake the symptoms of heart disease as the flu — 71 percent do not experience chest pains like men do.

"A lot of times when a man has a heart attack we call it a 'Hollywood heart attack,' like something you see in movies, they grab their chest and fall to the ground," said Alexson Callahan, director of communication for the American Heart Association. "Symptoms that [women] might experience are so vague, it may be hard to identify."

Women experience jaw pain, pain across the shoulders, nausea, and fatigue.

The Iowa Department of Public Health's goal is to increase public awareness of signs and symptoms of heart attack.

Lisa Tate, the chief executive officer for WomenHeart, a national coalition for women with heart disease, said another way to prevent fatalities from heart disease is through CPR training.

"One of the key things among young people, especially on a college campus, is teaching people CPR," she said. "That is something that can benefit a whole community; young people aren't only around young people, they're around teachers, administrators — so you're around a lot of people where a heart attack can occur."

Health Iowa health educator Heidi Bohall said the organization hasn't had any Student Health specific events about heart disease, but she hopes students will utilize the Iowa Redwatch Band program to increase CPR training.

The UI Heart and Vascular Center plans to reach out to more UI campus organizations to educate the younger population about heart health issues.

Tate said while heart disease death rates has been going down over the last decade, the only heart disease deaths that are increasing are younger women ages 35 to 50.

"[People] should educate themselves for themselves, as well as the women they love — their mothers, their aunts, their sisters," Tate said. "While heart disease in very young women isn't common, the risk factors are things that you should pay attention to — take preventative steps now."

In today's issue:

comments powered by Disqus

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.