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February is Heart Month

Preventing one million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years is the goal of U.S. health officials, who launched a new program called Million Hearts. The aim is to raise awareness of the risk factors for heart disease; to improve access to good care; and to encourage healthy eating and behaviors. Through Hadassah's Health and Wellness Programs, WE can make a difference.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. The risk of heart disease increases for men over the age of 45, women over the age of 55, and those with a close family member who has had heart disease at an early age. Most of us know someone who has had heart disease, a heart attack or stroke. With two million heart attacks and strokes a year, and 800,000 deaths, it is unfortunately that cardiovascular research is underrepresented in our national budget.

Every minute, one woman in the US dies of cardiovascular disease (CVD). As was once erroneously believed, it is not predominantly a man's disease. Since 1984, it has claimed the lives of more women than men each year.1 Despite known sex differences in symptoms, medical treatment of women has not changed significantly over time, contributing to more heart attacks. This is likely fueled by the epidemic of obesity, sedentary life style and increased diabetes.

Recent studies reveal that people with low blood levels of vitamin D are at a higher risk for a variety of heart diseases. The latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, according to the NIH, estimated that 25% to 57% of adults have insufficient levels of D and other studies have suggested the number is as high as 70%. Vitamin D levels can easily be checked through a simple blood test.

Current research is providing evidence that adult and embryonic stem cells could replace damaged heart muscle cells, establish new blood vessels to supply them and restore heart function to people who have had heart attacks or have congestive heart failure.

It is easy to recognize that CVD remains one of the Nation's prominent and formidable health challenges, despite many breakthroughs.

Prevention - what You can do:
Adopt a healthy lifestyle to help reduce your chances of getting heart disease:

  • Take your blood pressure and keep it under control
  • Exercise regularly
  • Do NOT smoke and if you do, STOP
  • Get tested for diabetes - if you have it, keep it under control
  • Know your cholesterol and triglyceride levels and keep them under control
  • Consider getting your Vitamin D levels checked
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Visit your physician annually

Hadassah Medical Organization – Heart Research

Hadassah Performs New Treatment to Lower High Blood Pressure. Hypertension is one of the main causes of strokes, heart and kidney failure and strokes in Israel and worldwide. For the first time in Israel, doctors at Hadassah's Heart Institute used an innovative catheterization tool to perform a new procedure on a 72-year-old woman suffering from severe and uncontrolled chronic hypertension (high blood pressure). The procedure, renal denervation, is based on research showing that overactive kidney nerves contribute to the progression of high blood pressure.

Professor Chaim Lotan, Head of Hadassah's Heart Institute, reported, "This revolutionary procedure opens a window of opportunity for treating patients with hypertension who have not responded well to medication…" "At this time, it is intended for patients whose blood pressure remains uncontrolled even after taking large amounts of medication. This approach can reduce the dosage required for some patients and completely eliminate the need for medication in others. The treatment is still in its initial stages."

The facilities of the Cardiovascular Research Center enable physicians at the Heart Institute to engage in basic scientific research in conjunction with their ongoing clinical practice. The complementary work at the patients' bedsides and in the research laboratories help to define the issues that lead to solutions and cures. The studies investigate the pathophysiology of cardiac dysfunction, development and testing of new imaging and diagnostic modalities, and innovative prevention and treatment approaches of cardiovascular diseases.

For further information on Hadassah's Health and Wellness, "Women Take Heart" program, contact programming@hadassah.org, or visit www.hadassah.org.il

1 2011 10Q Report: Advancing Women's Heart Health through Improved Research, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Date: 2/16/2012 12:00:00 AM

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