Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, and women in Georgia die at a rate of 387/100,000 — 9% higher than the national average (1). But a new program is coming to Georgia that hopes to curb that trend – with women heart patients themselves at the forefront of the movement.
Forty Georgia women living with heart disease will be trained to become volunteer WomenHeart Champions who will return to their communities to educate women about heart health and lead patient support networks, thanks to a grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia (BCBSGa) Foundation.
Participating in the WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium is the first step in the training process. To be held February 17-20, 2012 at the Emory Conference Center Hotel in Atlanta, the three-day Symposium features national and local experts in cardiology, women’s health, and communications. The application process for women heart disease survivors interested in becoming a WomenHeart Champion is now open and continues through January 18, 2012 (extended deadline). Visit www.womenheart.org to access the application. In Georgia, WomenHeart has teamed with the BCBSGa Foundation to bring the Strengthening the Heart of Georgia program to the state.
“WomenHeart Champions are making a difference in the lives of women throughout the country,” said Lisa M. Tate, Chief Executive Officer of WomenHeart.
Currently, many women in Georgia are at significant risk of developing heart disease. 27 percent have high blood pressure, 47 percent have high cholesterol, 19 percent report smoking, 27 percent are obese, and 60 percent are physically inactive (2).
Forty women from 10 communities in the state will be selected through a statewide competitive application process to participate in the training program.
Many national, state and local organizations are working in partnership with WomenHeart to implement this initiative, including Grady Memorial Hospital, Cardiovascular Health Initiative of the Georgia Department of Public Health, Association of Black Cardiologists, Center for Black Women’s Wellness, Georgia Association of Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Saint Joseph’s Heart Center for Women, and Wellstar Cardiac Wellness and Rehabilitation.