Women across America are suffering from heart attacks everyday and efforts are being made to raise awareness to heart disease and prevent such medical events from happening.
Local healthcare officials, along with members of a local sorority, are doing their part to raise awareness of heart health, especially in women by participating in National Red Day. The goal is to help women prevent heart attacks or treat the illness when necessary.
February is slated as American Heart Month and Feb. 2 is National Wear Red Day. The health agency, as well as local chapters of the sorority, is promoting many of its offerings, including cardiovascular disease screening, intervention, counseling and referral for women receiving services through the department.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. About 610,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, and despite a mistaken concept, heart disease is not just a man’s disease, with it affecting thousands of women everyday.
In 2015, heart disease was the second leading cause of death in Sampson County, according to figures from the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics.
Members of the local chapter of Chi Eta Phi Sorority Inc. are preparing to “Go Red” by bringing awareness to heart disease and the effects on women.
The Women’s Heart Health and Wellness Seminar is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Feb. 3, at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 4442 Bonnetsville Road, Clinton. Screenings will be available blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose. The event is being hosted by the Gamma Eta Eta Chapter Inc. of Chi Eta Phi Sorority Inc. Admission is free and brunch will be provided.
Nettie Wilson-Pernell, member and communications coordinator, is looking forward to the event.
“We want to empower and educate women about heart disease,” Wilson-Pernell said about the disease. “It’s the leading killer of women.”
Women are encouraged to wear red to the event.
Vanessa Chance Snellings, a registered nurse and Chi Eta Phi member, is the guest speaker for the event. The Clinton native and Clinton High School graduate helps patients at the Rex Pain Management Center at UNC REX Healthcare in Raleigh. After graduating from high school, she attended North Carolina A&T University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing science. Snellings continued her education at Strayer University, where she earned a master’s degree in healthcare administration.
CDC stats indicate that heart disease is more prevalent to African-American women, and showed that among Hispanic women, heart disease and cancer cause the roughly the same number of deaths. With Native Americans, Alaska Native and Asian or Pacific Islander women, heart disease is second only to cancer.
Looking at statistics, the local health department started a local initiative to help combat the growing problem with heart disease.
According to Luke Smith, local 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. “The fact is, heart disease is the number one killer of women, causing one in three deaths each year. That’s approximately one woman every minute. To save lives and raise awareness of this serious issue, the American Heart Association launched Go Red for Women.”
According to Smith, Go Red For Women inspires women to make lifestyle changes, mobilize communities and shape policies to save lives. 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.
Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association’s national movement to end heart disease and strokes in women. More women than men die every year from heart disease or stroke. Fortunately, for women, 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.
Unfortunately, not all women are proactive and stay in constant communication with their primary physician about their heart health. Locally, the health department is working through the WISEWOMAN program to help some of those who do not have access to proper healthcare.
The program, Smith explained, 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.
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.”
The local health educator added that knowing the symptoms of a heart attack are very important. The five major symptoms men and women should look for are chest discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain; discomfort in other areas of the upper body which can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach; shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort; and other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
The health department is encouraging everyone to participate Feb. 2 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 local event, contact Phyllis Carter Goodman at 910-723-4939.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.