PUBLISHED: 4:17 PM on Wednesday, February 7, 2007
WISEWOMAN program celebrates heart month

Photo courtesy of Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium
  Community members gather for a two-mile walk Friday, Feb. 2, at the SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital to promote heart health as part of National Heart Month and National Wear Red Day.
The No. 1 killer for women in Alaska and the United States is heart disease. But heart disease also is one of the easiest diseases to prevent. To help inspire women this year to take better care of their hearts, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium's WISEWOMAN program is joining the celebration of National Heart Month in February.

By knowing their heart screening numbers - their blood pressures, cholesterol levels, glucose levels, etc. - and working to keep those numbers in check, women in Southeast Alaska can reduce their risk of premature death or disability. Cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes, are the No. 1 causes of death for American and Alaskan women. But the risks can be reduced.

"Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference in cardiovascular health," said Nancy Knapp, the coordinator for SEARHC's WISEWOMAN program. "Women can reduce their risk by not using tobacco, eating well and being active for 30 minutes a day."

During National Heart Month, SEARHC will be hosting several National Wear Red Day celebrations. The events feature heart health educational materials from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Heart Truth campaign, supplied by the Office of Women's Health. Lobby displays will be set up at several SEARHC facilities, including Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka.

The WISEWOMAN meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20 features a "Traditions of the Heart" gathering on heart healthy eating at the Salvation Army. Finally, there will be a wellness and heart health performance by Tlingit storyteller Gene Tagaban at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25 at the Sheet'ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi community house.

The SEARHC WISEWOMAN program is part of a national cardiovascular health campaign for women funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. WISEWOMAN - which stands for Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation - is designed to provide any woman age 30-64 of limited income or insurance access to health services so they can delay or prevent cardiovascular and other chronic diseases. These services include clinical screening and follow-up for cardiovascular risks and support for making lifestyle changes to support heart health.

Contact the SEARHC WISEWOMAN program at 1-888-388-8782 (toll-free in Alaska) with questions about support and eligibility in your community. For details of specific National Heart Month activities in Sitka, please call Martha Pearson at 966-8783.