According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. More than 600,000 Americans die from heart disease each year. That’s one in four deaths. Despite a mistaken concept, heart disease is not just a man’s disease, with it affecting thousands of women everyday.
According to statistics from the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, heart disease was the second leading cause of death in 2014 in Sampson County.
With numbers this astounding, the Sampson County Health Department is doing its part to raise awareness of heart health, especially in women. With February slated as American Heart Month and Feb. 5 National Wear Red Day, the health agency is promoting many of its offerings, including cardiovascular disease screening, intervention, counseling and referral for women receiving services through the department.
According to Luke Smith, health educator, the Health Department offers Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation (WISEWOMAN), a health initiative dedicated to providing heart health care. The program is offered in conjunction with N.C. BCCCP (Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program) services at nearly 40 local health departments and community health centers across the state.
“According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is not just a man’s disease,” Smith stressed. “Each year, one in three women die of heart disease and stroke. To save lives and raise awareness of this serious issue, the American Heart Association launched Go Red for Women.”
In association with this nationwide event, the first Friday in February is designated as National Wear Red Day, bringing attention to the staggering fact that many women also suffer from this deadly disease.
The WISEWOMAN program, Smith said, is funded through the Center for Disease Control. In all, there are 21 projects in 19 states and two tribal organizations. Locally, the program provides low-income, underinsured, or uninsured women, ages 40-64, with the knowledge, skills and opportunities to improve their diet, physical activity, and other life habits to prevent, delay or control cardiovascular and other chronic diseases, Smith noted.
Implemented at the local agency in 2014, the first state agency was funded in 1995. Since that time, Smith said, the program has been offering risk factor testing for heart disease, the check and control of blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, as well as lifestyle intervention classes, counseling and activities and referrals to health care providers and sources of low cost medications.
“WISEWOMAN offers women the chance to see a doctor if they have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar,” Smith said. “It also allows women the chance to set goals for health, such as eating more fruits and vegetables and walking 30 minutes each day.”
Smith said knowing the symptoms of a heart attack are very important. The five major symptoms men and women should look for are pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back; feeling weakness, light-headed or faint; chest pain or discomfort; pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder; and shortness of breath.
“If you think that you or someone you know is having a heart attack,” Smith noted, “you should call 911 immediately.”
The Health Department is encouraging everyone to participate Feb. 5 in National Wear Red Day as a reminder for everyone to know their cardiovascular risks and take action to live longer, healthier lives.
For more information about the N.C. WISEWOMAN program, visit www.bcccp.ncdhhs.gov or call the Sampson County Health Department at 910-592-1131, ext. 4214.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.