Have a heart for American Heart Month

Many women do not realize as they age they become more likely to develop heart disease.

To combat this problem, a team from Emeritus at Pinnacle is fanning out to personally alert area women age 65 and older to their increased risk and provide resources to fight it.

Emeritus at Pinnacle’s effort is part of “10,000 Heart to Hearts,” a nationwide initiative being conducted by its parent organization Brookdale with the goal of reaching 10,000 older women across the country.

The 10,000 Heart to Hearts program began Feb. 1, at the start of American Heart Month.

“Cardiac disease kills more women than all cancers combined, but a lot of older women don’t realize how dangerous it is,” said Kevin O’Neil, chief medical officer for Brookdale. “On average, women develop heart disease 10 years later than men do, with their first heart attack occurring at the age of 70.”

This cardiac disease risk begins rising during menopause, when the body reduces production of estrogen, a hormone believed to benefit arteries. By their 70s, most women have high blood pressure.

“Aging makes it harder to cope with cardiac disease’s impact,” said O’Neil. “Three-quarters of senior women who survive heart attacks are not able to resume their normal lives. However, women can dramatically reduce their cardiac risk regardless of their age by embracing healthy habits.”

He said that a recent study shows lifestyle changes can reduce a woman’s likelihood of heart disease by 90 percent.

“They include stopping smoking, eating a diet low in saturated fats, exercising moderately for half an hour a day, limiting alcohol consumption and maintaining a body mass index under 25,” O’Neil said.

Through the “10,000 Heart to Hearts” initiative, professionals with Emeritus at Pinnacle will visit senior women in their homes to explain the risk, check their blood pressure, discuss measures for healthier lifestyles, provide a heart-healthy cookbook and connect them with resources. There is no charge for the visits.

“Our goal is to have a candid, heart-to-heart discussion with each woman about the importance of the issue and help them take the steps needed to address it,” said Karen Kraft, executive director, Emeritus at Pinnacle .

To schedule an in-home “10,000 Heart to Hearts” visit, contact Cheryl at Emeritus at Pinnacle at 277-2100 extension 26.

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