Friday, February 13, 2009

Go Red: MGH Heart Center promotes healthy hearts

COOKING HEART-SMART DISHES: Walker, left, and Kahn

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) kills more women than the next five leading causes of death combined, yet only 57 percent of women are aware that CVD is their greatest health threat. To help increase awareness, the MGH Heart Center's Corrigan Women's Heart Health Program sponsored several events Feb. 2 through 6, as part of the American Heart Association's national "Go Red for Women" campaign.

On Feb. 3, MGH cardiac surgeon Jennifer Walker, MD, and executive chef Daniel Kahn offered heart healthy recipes during a cooking demonstration in the East Garden Room. Attendees sampled the finished dishes -- chicken paprikash with brown rice and Brazilian 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." said Walker. "Using fresh ingredients and choosing to prepare them healthily 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 for the Corrigan Women's Heart Health Program, presented "Heart Disease in Women: Dispelling the Myths." Scott addressed heart disease symptoms, disparities in care and survival, and new research about CVD in women. "Part of the burden of CVD in women is the lack of gender-specific data, and so far, we have realized that differences exist between men and women," said Scott, who explained that studies focusing on women show different results from men regarding the use of aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke. She also described how widely-used risk assessment tools often underestimate the true risk of CVD in most women. "The best thing anyone can do is improve their risk factors through maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and not smoking. Also, know your numbers and talk to your doctor about which options are best for you based on an individual assessment."

The week's events ended with National Wear Red Day Feb. 6. More than 400 red carnations were given to patients and staff at the MGH Heart Center to celebrate. For more information about the MGH's Go Red events, visit

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