Story last updated at 2/4/2009 - 11:44 am
SITKA - Heart disease is the number one killer for women in Alaska and the United States. To help women take better care of their hearts, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) WISEWOMAN program is joining millions of Americans in the celebration of National Wear Red Day Feb. 6.
One in two women will die of heart disease or stroke, while one in 25 women will die of breast cancer. Heart disease kills more women than the next five leading causes of death, including all cancers combined. National Wear Red Day celebrations teach women about this risk and give them the tools they need to lead healthier lives. Geared specifically for women, the symbol for Wear Red Day is the red dress pin. By wearing the pin or just by wearing red on Feb. 6, you send a message that you support women in their fight against heart disease. The WISEWOMAN cardiovascular program for women will team with local partners to host other activities throughout the month of February. These events will be announced separately and will take place in several Southeast communities.
The first thing women can do to reduce their risk for heart disease is get screened every year. Women in Southeast Alaska can reduce their risk for premature death or disability by knowing their heart screening numbers (blood pressures, cholesterol levels, glucose levels, etc.) and working to keep those numbers in check. The screenings are free to all women who qualify.
"The risk for women of death and disability from heart disease is very real, but small lifestyle changes can make a big difference in cardiovascular health," said Nancy Knapp, director of the WISEWOMAN program. "Women can reduce their risk by getting screened, avoiding tobacco, eating well, and being active for 30 minutes a day."
The WISEWOMAN program is designed to provide any woman age 30-64 of limited income or insurance the health services she needs to prevent cardiovascular and other chronic diseases. These services are part of a regular, annual women's health exam and include clinical screening and follow-up for cardiovascular risks and support for making lifestyle changes. Services are available in Haines, Juneau, Sitka, Kake, Angoon and Klawock, as well as other Southeast communities.
Contact the WISEWOMAN program with questions about support and eligibility in your community. For details of specific activities in your SEARHC community, call 1-888-388-8782 (toll-free in Alaska).