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2013-02-14

Health clinic recognizes Women's Heart Health Month

Special to the Courier


It's a fallacy that heart disease is only a man's disease - a dangerous fallacy. Heart disease affects women as well as men.
"Younger women are at a heart risk because of the combination of smoking and birth control pills," explained K. Irene Stone, executive director of the Arthur Nagel Community Clinic. That dangerous combination can increase a woman's risk of heart disease by 20 percent, according to the American Heart Association.
Throughout February, medical personnel, staff and volunteers at the community clinic will recognize Women's Heart Health Month.
As women age, they increase their risk of heart disease by not exercising or eating healthy, which can lead to clogged arteries. If the woman has a heart condition, she can be at risk even with a healthy lifestyle. To date, heart disease claims the lives of one in three women - that's one death each minute. Compared with the statistic that one in 31 women dies from breast cancer each year, it is easy to see why heart disease is the number one killer of women.
"The Arthur Nagel Community Clinic is committed to providing the women who come to our clinic with the highest level of care. We are especially tuned in to symptoms of heart disease during this special month of Women's Heart Health," said Stone. "The clinic staff and volunteers will be wearing red to honor the women - mothers, sisters, friends, and neighbors - who are struggling with heart-related disease."
To help female patients successfully maintain a healthy heart, healthcare practitioners at the Arthur Nagel Community Clinic, a primary and preventive care medical facility, implement a two-step procedure. "By scheduling a routine Well Woman's Program appointment and following up with enrollment in RiskBusters, both free services to clinic patients, we can isolate potential cardiovascular problems and treat women for optimal heart health," Stone said.
Currently, the clinic is promoting its Well Woman's Program to female patients. "Through the Well Woman's Program, we can offer physical examinations, pap tests, birth control, mammograms, urinalysis, screening for colon cancer, STD testing, pregnancy tests, prenatal care referrals, and healthy lifestyle counseling," said Stone. "Sometimes the medical team at the clinic will discover during a Well Woman's appointment that a patient has symptoms of heart disease, such as hypertension or high cholesterol. Caught in the early stages, heart health can be maintained through medication, proper diet, and exercise."
And that's where the clinic's RiskBusters Program comes in. Susan Broa, clinical healthcare coordinator, recommends patients adopt a healthier lifestyle by watching fat intake, ceasing smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, exercising at least 30 minutes each day and scheduling regular checkups. These simple steps will lead to a healthy heart.
Additionally, two small but life-changing things women can do to reduce their heart risk is to limit their sodium intake and sugar consumption. Salt can increase hypertension, and sugar in soft drinks and foods may cause poor cholesterol profiles, which can lead to heart disease in adulthood.
It is also vital for women to realize that heart attack symptoms differ for women and men. Men typically have chest pain, while women will experience shortness of breath, back or jaw pain and nausea/vomiting. Women should also look out for dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting or extreme fatigue. Women can have pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen.
The American Heart Associations says that more than 627,000 women have been saved from heart disease because of healthy lifestyle choices and knowing the signs of a heart attack. That's 330 fewer women dying every day.
For more information on the "Go Red For Women" Healthy Heart Program, visit www.goredforwomen.org.
To see if you qualify as a patient at the Arthur Nagel Community Clinic, call 830-796-3448, or visit clinic at 1116 12th Street in the Helping Hand complex for an application.
To volunteer at the clinic or make a donation to support the Well Woman's program, contact Stone at 830-796-3448. Visit www.nagelclinic.org for online information and donations.


Pictured: Pam Otten and Toni Vavra, volunteers with the Arthur Nagel Community Clinic, along with Genny Thomson, office administrator, assemble bags of heart-healthy Valentine goodies to give to patients on Thursday, Feb. 14.

February has been designated Women's Heart Health Month. Arthur Nagel Community Clinic healthcare providers, Dr. Sandra Haldeman and nurse practitioner Margarita Sloan, work in the Well Woman Program, a program that often identifies underlying heart disease problems during annual exams.