Heart Health for Women: Program focuses on prevention to reduce risk, improve heart health
From Spotlight on Health Jan./Feb. 2007
Kathleen Mahon, cardiac nurse practitioner and coordinator of the Women @ Heart Project, consults with Susan Riley.
High cholesterol may have scared Susan Riley, 59, into participating in the Women @ Heart Project, but her results set her mind at ease.
“It was worth the money,” said Riley, who got a cardiac CT scan for calcium scoring as part of her Women @ Heart package.
“With my high cholesterol, calcium buildup was a big concern for me. I was relieved to find out that I had no calcium in my arteries.”
The Women @ Heart Project promotes heart disease prevention while addressing the distinct concerns of women.
“A woman’s heart is unique and warrants special care,” said Kathleen Mahon, cardiac nurse practitioner and coordinator of the Women @ Heart Project. “The program identifies a woman’s risk for heart disease and provides information on how to make wise lifestyle choices.”
“It was so empowering,” Riley said. “Women tend to put their health last. We take care of our families but we put off taking care of ourselves.”
The Women @ Heart Project at Central Minnesota Heart Center began in 2006 to help women optimize their heart health. Nearly twice as many women in the United States die of heart disease and stroke as from all forms of cancer -- including breast cancer.
Several studies show that the incidence of heart disease can be reduced up to 75 percent with lifestyle management.
“Women have a one in three chance of developing heart disease,” said Mahon. “And, they have the power to change that statistic. Prevention is the key.”
The Women @ Heart Project offers two comprehensive plans which feature professional one-on-one consultations with a:
- Cardiology Nurse Practitioner – After a variety of tests to evaluate cardiac risk factors, a nurse practitioner reviews and discusses the results. Based on the diagnostic tests, the nurse practitioner calculates the 10-year risk for heart disease. She then helps develop a personalized plan to help prevent or slow the progression of heart disease.
- Cardiac Dietitian – From weight loss to reducing cholesterol by making dietary changes rather than taking medications, a cardiac dietitian analyzes women’s diets and works with them to develop tasty, healthy meals that they and their families will love.
- Exercise Physiologist – Designing an exercise program that will fit women’s busy schedules and fit their interests is the goal of an exercise physiologist.
At the end of the first visit, each woman receives a personalized heart health book that includes all of her test results, an explanation of her risk factors and their significance, and a comprehensive plan designed just for her -- complete with attainable goals and a journal to track results. Plus, each woman receives a Women @ Heart Project handbook, a low-fat cookbook and a pedometer.
“It’s a totally different environment. They really listened to what I already was doing and wrote hands-on steps that are attainable in my handbook -- such as ways to incorporate more exercise into my busy life,” said Riley. “I even learned about a snack from the dietitian that tastes so good -- I can’t believe it’s good for me.”
“We want women to succeed,” said Mahon. “We re-evaluate their progress and help redefine their goals at regular intervals. We not only identify women’s risk factors, but also work with them to set goals and develop a plan to optimize their heart health.”
A doctor’s referral is not necessary. Most insurance plans do not cover the cost of preventive screenings. However, health savings accounts or flexible spending accounts may reimburse the cost of a screening.
Susan Riley talks with Diane Giambruno, RD,
cardiac dietitian at the Central Minnesota Heart Center, about heart-healthy snack ideas
through the Women @ Heart Project.
Women @ Heart gift certificates make a thoughtful and meaningful gift for friends, co-workers and relatives.
Learn more about the Women @ Heart Project.