Taking it to heart

Christina Calloway: Portales News-Tribune Roosevelt General Hospital’s Director of Cardiopulmonary Health Alex Wynn, left, hooks up Francine Jimenez, a human resources assistant, to equipment conduct a stress test. Stress tests are often used to diagnose heart disease.

Christina Calloway: Portales News-Tribune
Roosevelt General Hospital’s Director of Cardiopulmonary Health Alex Wynn, left, hooks up Francine Jimenez, a human resources assistant, to equipment conduct a stress test. Stress tests are often used to diagnose heart disease.

By Christina Calloway

PNT senior writer

ccalloway@pntonline.com

Roosevelt General Hospital’s staff will have ongoing conversations with its female patients about heart health given Roosevelt and Curry counties high rates of death cause by heart disease in women, according to RGH officials.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Roosevelt and Curry counties fall into the highest category range for heart disease deaths in women over the age of 35, which ranges from 362 to 735 deaths per 100,000 people.

This concerns Alex Wynn, RGH’s director of cardiopulmonary health, given the counties’ smaller populations.

“Heart disease is the number one killer of women. We’re probably at the worse percentage for our population,” Wynn said.

Wynn said women are often encouraged to get other health-related exams yearly, so he feels heart health needs to be added to the list of routine checkups.

RGH is taking the initiative to educate their patients by arming their staff with heart disease facts.

The hospital also recently participated in a Go Red For Women event, which is an American Heart Association awareness campaign.

RGH Spokeswoman Amber Hamilton said RGH staff wore red shirts and had large balloon hearts throughout the hospital to raise awareness about heart disease.

“This is a very real health issue about our community,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said she saw a lot of women on RGH’s staff step up for the event by researching statistics.

“I saw the passion and the boldness they have to talk about this topic,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said RGH’s goal is to build upon the event each year, but in the meantime have their staff to continue to push their women patients to check their heart health because there are many contributing factors to heart disease that women often overlook.

“With it being on the rise so greatly, it’s definitely an area that’s missed,” Wynn said. “Obesity and overall health is directly tied into it.”

Fast facts on heart disease in women:

• Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S., killing 292,188 women in 2009, about 1 in every 4 female deaths.

• Almost two-thirds of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.

• High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors.

• Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices that put women at higher risk for heart disease include: Diabetes, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol use.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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