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FOR RELEASE: May 8, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

The “Heart Truth” Campaign Educates Women about Heart Disease Starts Mother’s Day, May 11

Heart disease is not just a man’s disease - it’s the number one killer of women. The Heart Truth is that one in three deaths among Oklahoma women is due to heart disease, according to officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). Gov. Brad Henry has proclaimed the week beginning this Sunday, Mother’s Day, May 11 through May 17, as National Women’s Health Week in Oklahoma.

Mother’s Day will kick off an intensive, yearlong, collaborative public education effort to inform women about key health issues affecting them. The OSDH and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute have joined efforts to encourage all Oklahoma women to face The Heart Truth by knowing the risk factors for heart disease, talking about them with your doctor, and taking action to improve your own health. OSDH is encouraging women to wear a red dress on Mother’s Day to show support for The Heart Truth campaign.

The risk factors for heart disease include the following: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, being overweight, being physically inactive, age (55 or older for women), and having a family history of early heart disease. Having an active and healthy lifestyle along with a nutritious diet will help prevent the onset of hypertension, or high blood pressure (HBP). People with HBP have three to four times the risk of developing heart disease than those without HBP.

High blood pressure contributes to 29 percent of heart disease deaths each year. Fortunately, over 70 percent of Oklahoma women maintain normal blood pressure levels (Oklahoma Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, 2001). Have your blood pressure checked by your health care provider to determine if your pressure measures 140/90 or greater. If so, lifestyle behaviors need to be modified to help reduce your blood pressure.

High cholesterol is another critical risk factor of heart disease onset. High cholesterol is often undetected because there are little or no signs or symptoms of this condition until chest pain or a heart attack occurs. Nearly 70 percent of Oklahoma women maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Generally, healthy people with average cholesterol who lowered it reduced their risk for a first-time coronary event by 37 percent.

Choosing nutritious eating habits, such as including five to nine fruits and vegetables a day, along with consistent physical activity at a moderate intensity, and the lack of tobacco use, will help reduce high cholesterol to a healthy level. Improving nutrient intake and monitoring portion size can reduce the occurrence of heart disease among Oklahoma women.

Individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes have an increased risk of developing heart disease. Two-thirds of people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke. In 2000, six percent of Oklahoma adult women had been told by a doctor that they had diabetes. Women with diabetes double their risk of coronary heart disease. A health care provider should be contacted to guide the treatment of diabetes and help monitor and reduce associated risk factors.

Women smokers have a two- to six-fold increase in risk of a heart attack. In only one year after quitting smoking, the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) decreases by 50 percent, and within 15 years, the relative risk of dying from CHD for an ex-smoker approaches that of a lifetime nonsmoker. If you smoke, contact your health care provider or county health department to learn how to kick the habit.

Regular and sustained physical activity and proper nutrition can reduce excessive body weight and minimize a person’s risk of dying from heart disease. Moderately intense physical activity for 30 to 45 minutes a day is recommended for comprehensive weight loss or weight maintenance.

Moderate physical activity may include walking, gardening, bicycling, dancing, etc. Less active, less physically fit persons have a 30 to 50 percent greater risk of developing high blood pressure.

For more information, contact the OSDH Chronic Disease Service at 405/271-4072, or the local county health department in your area.

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