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Heart Health

February is National Heart Health Month

February 3, 2013
By KIM LOCCISANO - Staff Writer ( , Times Leader

A woman's heart.

Literary sources have been telling us for centuries there is nothing as strong, as gentle or resilient as is the heart of a woman.

Unfortunately, modern healthcare researchers are telling the woman of today there is another distinctive aspect about her heart and her overall health: heart disease is the single greatest cause of death among women.

It is not always preventable.

We understand that reality.

Sadly, it is a fair bet to say virtually anyone reading this article will have lost someone to heart disease who they considered a friend or loved one.

Fact Box

OVMC's Pink Power Night goes RED

WHEELING - In an effort to raise awareness of heart disease, OVMC's monthly "Pink Power Night" event for women will GO RED. On Tuesday, Feb. 5, the event will feature a women's expo from 6 to 7 p.m. with health screenings, and then at 7 p.m., the guest speakers, Dr. Joseph Gabis, MD, cardiologist and Helen Moncman of the American Heart Association will share information about heart disease and prevention for our guests. There will also be a presentation on "Humor for the Health of It."

Door prizes and refreshments are provided. The event is held in the OVMC Nurses Residence auditorium and living room. This is a completely FREE community event and is open to women of all ages. Parking will be validated for anyone parking in the public garage. To register for the event, contact Laurie Labishak at 304-234-8233 or visit for more information and online registration.

Ohio Valley Medical Center, located in Wheeling, and East Ohio Regional Hospital, located in Martins Ferry, are a 340-bed, combined organization with more than 1,600 employees and provides the area's only comprehensive behavioral and mental health services and board-certified emergency services on both sides of the Ohio River.

If you have been a longtime reader of this section of The Times Leader, you may readily remember how quickly one of our own was taken from all of us by heart disease just a few years ago. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, Trish Neal Graham was gone.

She was not the first, nor will she have been the last, to be taken by the devastating realities that come with heart disease into the world of women.

Though she always lived life to the fullest, I can say without reservation Trish considered her life's plan as having still included many things yet to do and experiences to have had before having been at all comfortable with leaving those she loved and cared about.

The gifts of love and of life are important to share, and with the arrival of the month wrapped around the traditions of Valentine's Day, what better time could there be than to share a genuine gift meant to let someone know you care about them and their well-being?

Although these unique expressions of genuine caring may well be met with a less than enthusiastic response initially, take a moment and make sure the recipient understands the true sentiment behind it - that you look forward to having them in your life for a long time to come.

The very real bottom line, according to the American Heart Association, is that too often women have paid attention to the details of caring for and about others and forgetting you cannot do those good works if you unnecessarily lose your life to what might have been a preventable aspect of heart disease.

What modern medical experts have told us is their research over recent decades has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt we take great care of others, and too often we seem to forget all about doing anything of substance to really take care of ourselves.

Not the legacy to proudly share with the next generation if you have a choice, which most of us do, at least to one degree or another.

A mother will guard her children, protecting them from the most threatening of monsters whether real or imaginary. But as had been pointedly shared from one person to another in recent years, it is impossible to take care of someone else if you are not fully available yourself.

There is nothing imaginary about the devastation heart disease can wreck on a family, whether by taking a person completely from those they know and love or by inflicting one debilitating blow after another over the course of several months or year's time through repeated heart attacks or strokes.

Most women have grown up understanding heart disease was something generally thought of as being particularly dangerous to men.

Though heart disease is now considered the number one killer of women in the U.S., the upside of supporting medical research - such as that done through the American Heart Association - is that it is often beneficial to both women and men.

Experts will candidly tell you they do not have all the answers, but will remind patients and their family members they may have more resources at their finger tips than any generation that has come before via access to the older generations of a family and ready phone accessibly to each other no matter the distance.

Sharing details of family medical history can prove of vital importance in emergency situations and even helpful when making certain preventive tactical choices as well.

Such discussions just might prove motivational.

Parents who decide to live a more healthful life, whether this involves seemingly small or obviously large steps connected to details of your everyday life, experts say it is vital to let your children know you are living that decision on a day to day basis.

Heart health is not a subject for the family dinner, or at least that used to be the case according to manners experts of past generations, but thanks to the ease of availability about healthy lifestyles and decision making via the internet, heart patients and their loved ones are able to directly access a great deal of quality healthcare information that will hopefully help keep one and all motivated to maintain a healthy body and mind.

Admittedly, heart attacks and strokes which have devastated past generations are not the kind of light dinner table discussion you may hope for on the average day, especially at the occasional family gathering, but when done for the right reasons and at the proper time, the message of caring for your family members should be the central message.

See how your loved ones feel about a night out of the house and spent at a local CPR class. CPR is nothing short of a gift of life. What better gift could there be through which to show someone you care about them?

What types of things can you do to help yourself? Exercise, like brisk walking for 30 to 60 minutes a day, can help reduce the risk of heart disease in women. Other changes in your day to day routine, like taking the stairs, parking farther from the building, or doing push-ups and sit-ups while watching TV.

You should also keep yourself at a healthy body weight. While healthy varies from person to person, calculating your body mass index (BMI) can give you a better idea of where you stand. BMI will tell you if you have a healthy or unhealthy percentage of body fat. According to the American Heart Association, a BMI of 25 or higher can be associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Losing just 10 to 15 pounds can help by lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of diabetes - both of which increase your risk of heart disease.

The role of fundraising in support of research is paramount and is something local businessman Dom DeFelice has been supporting through his business for at least 30 years. DeFelice will make a dollar per pizza donation to the American Heart Association's local fundraising efforts over the three day special sale that is held at each of the company's stores through the region.

"This year our heart shaped pizza sale and fundraiser will be held on Feb 12,13, and 14," offered Dom DeFelice, himself a child of heart disease as a youngster, and a longtime active member of the Belmont County Heart Board, and past chair of the Heart Ball. One dollar per heart shaped pizza sold for $10.99 will be donated to the fundraising effort. It has produced donations which, when amassed, would total more than $33,000.



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