Cardiovascular disease kills more women than the next top five causes of death combined. Yet only 57 percent of women are aware that cardiovascular disease is their number one health threat. To help increase awareness, the Corrigan Women’s Heart Health Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center sponsored several events as part of the American Heart Association’s national Go Red for Women campaign.
Cardiac surgeon Jennifer Walker, MD, and Mass General Hospital Executive Chef Daniel Kahn offered heart healthy recipes during a cooking demonstration on Tuesday, February 3rd. Attendees sampled chicken paprikash with brown rice and Bazilian black bean stew with chorizo and ham.
“It does not have to take a long time or a lot of effort to cook something that is heart healthy and tastes good,” says Walker. “Using fresh ingredients and how you choose to prepare them are more important. For example, use olive oil instead of butter, and limit the amount of sodium you add.”
Later in the week, Nandita Scott, MD, cardiologist at the Corrigan Women’s Heart Health Program, gave the presentation “Heart Disease in Women: Dispelling the Myths,” which addressed symptoms, disparities in care and survival, and new research findings regarding cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women.
“Part of the burden of CVD in women is due to lack of gender-specific data and so far, we have realized that differences exist between men and women,” says Scott.
For instance, new studies focusing on women show very different results from men regarding the use of aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke. Also, the Framingham Heart Risk Score likely underestimates true risk of cardiovascular disease in most women, she says.
“The best thing you can do is improve your risk factors through good nutrition, exercise and by not smoking,” says Dr. Scott. “Also, know your numbers and talk to your doctor about what options are best for you based on an individual assessment.”
The week’s events ended with National Wear Red Day on Friday, February 6th when 425 red carnations were given to female patients and staff at the Heart Center.