- Strong @Heart Campaign Encourages the 44 Million Women Living with or at Risk of Heart Disease to Become Advocates for Women's Heart Health -
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the U.S.,(i) yet women are still not receiving the same in-hospital treatment that men do for heart attacks and as a result, they may be more likely to die.(ii) In an effort to address this problem, Bayer Healthcare LLC, the makers of Bayer Aspirin, and WomenHeart, the nation's only national organization solely dedicated to advancing women's heart health through advocacy, community education and patient support, have teamed up during American Heart Month with the launch of Strong @Heart.
The Strong @Heart campaign encourages women to understand and advocate for early detection and prevention of heart attack and recurrent stroke. Now more than ever, women need to understand their risk factors for heart disease and advocate for their own heart health by being smarter, stronger and optimally empowered.
Sandra Revill Tremulis, a WomenHeart Champion and patient advocate, knows first-hand the importance of self advocacy. An avid runner and the image of picture-perfect health, Sandra almost lost her life to heart disease. At age 39, Sandra began experiencing extreme fatigue and a mild tingling in her chest while exercising and, although the symptoms would fade during rest, Sandra was unsettled by her condition. On her next business flight she took an aspirin, only to later learn from her doctor that the aspirin probably saved her life.
"As my symptoms persisted, I became more concerned," said Sandra. "Even though my family doctor told me I was healthy I knew something was wrong, so I sought a second opinion from a specialist only to learn that there was substantially reduced blood flow to the left side of my heart. The doctors were surprised I was even alive, but my intuition, healthy lifestyle and a simple aspirin probably saved my life."
"One in three women in this country has some form of cardiovascular disease. The fact that disparities in treatment persist should concern us all," says Kathy Berra, MSN, ANP, member of the WomenHeart scientific advisory council and clinician at Cardiovascular Medicine and Coronary Interventions in Redwood City, California and the Stanford Prevention Research Center. "Strong @Heart informs and inspires women to optimize their heart health through cost-effective risk-reduction strategies like doctor-recommended aspirin for those at increased risk of cardiovascular events, improved exercise and optimal physician/patient interaction. Smoking cessation and intensive control of blood pressure, blood cholesterol and diabetes are also key strategies to reduce heart attack risk."
Today, aspirin is a critical part of Sandra's prevention plan and she never leaves home without it. She even came up with a creative way to conveniently keep aspirin on hand at all times -- an aspirin holder that she ties to her running sneaker. It provides the bit of extra security she needs in the event she has a heart attack away from home.
Inspired by Sandra's story, WomenHeart, together with the Bayer Aspirin Brand, have replicated Sandra's aspirin holder and are making it available free to the public -- the Strong @Heart HeartSAFE. The HeartSAFE can easily be attached to a key chain or purse and should be used as directed by a doctor by anyone experiencing a suspected heart attack.
People can receive a HeartSAFE by becoming a fan of the WomenHeart Strong @Heart page on Facebook.com where they can connect with an online community of women who have a dedicated interest in cardiovascular health and receive periodic news updates, information from experts and links to other useful resources. To join the WomenHeart Strong @Heart community on Facebook visit www.WonderDrug.com or www.WomenHeart.org. Remember to get regular check-ups so you and your doctor can monitor your heart health.
"We are so grateful to have generous partners like Bayer Healthcare that share our organization's commitment to helping women take charge of their heart health," said Lisa M. Tate, CEO of WomenHeart. "I believe that through this campaign we can turn awareness into action and build a community of women who are committed to be being Strong @Heart by being HeartSAFE."
Aspirin is a Lifesaver
For the 1 in 3 women who have some form of CVD and the 3 million women in the U.S. who have a history of myocardial infarction (MI),(iii) a doctor-recommended aspirin regimen can be a critical component of any CV event prevention plan. Aspirin is proven to reduce the risk of recurrent heart attack and stroke when taken regularly under a doctor's direction by those at elevated risk, and can reduce the risk of dying during a heart attack if taken as directed by a doctor. A Partnership for Prevention reports states that an additional 45,000 lives could be saved each year if more at-risk adults took low-dose aspirin to prevent cardiovascular events,(iv) yet research shows that women are 14 % less likely than men to be treated with aspirin following a heart attack.(v)
Before starting an aspirin regimen it is important that women understand their risk for heart disease. Risk factors include age, family history of heart disease, smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, increased LDL cholesterol and diabetes. Women need to work with their doctors to assess their CVD risk, as well as talk about options for lowering their risk, if it is increased. Important lifestyle changes such as weight loss and increased exercise, as well as cost-effective prevention strategies like taking a doctor-recommended low-dose aspirin can help achieve these goals.
Despite the growing problem of CVD in the U.S., and the current clinical guideline recommendations, a growing body of evidence suggests that low-dose aspirin is significantly underutilized in individuals who could benefit from its use. In fact, a report published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine revealed that aspirin is greatly underutilized, with 43% of increased-risk respondents admitting they do not take aspirin regularly.(vi)
WomenHeart is the nations' only national organization solely dedicated to advancing women's heart health through advocacy, community education and patient support. A nonprofit advocacy organization, WomenHeart is a community of women heart patients and their families, health care providers, advocates and consumers committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. For more information about WomenHeart, visit www.womenheart.org.
(i) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Leading Causes of Death in Females- United States, 2004
(ii) Jneid H, Fonarow G, Cannon C, et al. Sex Differences in Medical Care and Early Death After Acute Myocardial Infarction. Circulation. December 8, 2008. http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/CIRCULATIONAHA.108.789800v1
(iii) American Heart Association. Women and Cardiovascular Disease Statistics. http://www.americanheart.org/downloadable/heart/1199816973854FS10WM08.pdf
(iv) National Commission on Prevention Priorities. Preventive Care: A National Profile on Use, Disparities, and Health Benefits. Partnership for Prevention, August 2007. Available at: http://www.prevent.org/content/view/129/72/.
(v) Jneid H, Fonarow G, Cannon C, et al. Sex Differences in Medical Care and Early Death After Acute Myocardial Infarction. Circulation. December 8, 2008.
(vi) Pignone M, Anderson GK, Binnis K, et al. Aspirin use among adults over 40 in the U.S.: results of a national survey. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2007; 32(5):403-406,
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