Heartfelt Connections

    The Heart Truth Champions and friends shine a spotlight on women and heart disease at a Red Dress Gala and fashion show at West Town Mall.

    “Heartfelt” Connections Increase Awareness of Women and Heart Disease

    The latest advancement in reducing heart disease in women is not a new test or treatment. Women can dramatically reduce their risks of developing heart disease by doing just four things – eating right, being physically active, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight.

    According to the most current research 62 percent of women are aware that heart disease is the number one killer of women. But many women still fail to take their risks personally or seriously. The Heart Truth Champions of Covenant Health are reaching out to help women understand that heart disease risk is a personal thing.

    Covenant Health was selected by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and the Office on Women’s Health as one of a handful of sites across the United States to initiate a Heart Truth Champions program. Twelve Heart Truth Champion volunteers were selected based on their involvement in community health education activities, and their willingness to create and participate in local events to raise awareness of women and heart disease.

    “For some Heart Truth Champions, heart disease is a family experience,” said Champion Karen Milligan, coordinator of Covenant Health’s bodyWORKS fitness program. “For me, it’s about helping people understand that regular exercise is one of the best ways to fight heart disease. It’s not easy to change your lifestyle, but it can be done.”

    Six Numbers at the Heart of Good Health

    What you measure, you improve. That was the goal of Know Your Six, Chicks, a year-long community campaign to help women fight heart disease through awareness of six measures of heart health: blood pressure, cholesterol, fasting glucose, body mass index (BMI), physical activity and sleep habits.

    The campaign included heart health information, Lunch and Learns, community screenings, an interactive website and online health assessment, and mobile blood pressure screening units placed at local businesses.

    “The awareness level of women’s risk of heart disease has increased significantly in the last decade, but awareness does not always equate with behavior change,” said Gary Young, director of Covenant’s Center for Community  Health. “We want women to take heart health personally and to act on any risk factors that may put them in harm’s way.”

    Know Your Six, Chicks is estimated to have directly reached just over 10,000 participants. Local businesses played an important role, providing locations for mobile Heart Centers and often providing spokespersons for the  initiative. In addition to business participation, Know Your Six, Chicks also reached out to community centers, church locations, cultural events and trade shows – and expanded to include men in its outreach efforts.

    “Heart disease is a health concern for everyone,” Young said. “The Know Your Six approach helps us spread the word about heart disease, and what individuals – both men and women – can do to prevent it.”