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A Hummel Report Investigation

Good For The Heart

Heart disease and stroke are the leading killer of women in this country and one in three women lives with cardiovascular disease. And while every 80 seconds a woman dies from some type of heart disease, 80 percent of it is preventable. Those are the sobering statistics at the core of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign. This month Jim Hummel hears from two women featured locally in this year’s campaign - and CVS Health, which has committed to raising $10 million over the next three years for cardiovascular research and education.


It was all shades of red as far as the eye could see across the 5th-floor ballroom of the Rhode Island Convention Center last month, as women - and men - gathered for this year’s Go Red for Women luncheon.
The annual event focuses on women’s heart health issues; and this year, in addition to the 700 people who came for the lunch, there were multiple workshops and information stations just off the ballroom leading up to main event.
You probably have heard about Go Red for Women, which the American Heart Association launched nationally in 2004.
But here’s what you might not know.
Melissa: ``Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in women and 80 percent of heart disease is preventable.’’
Melissa Cummings is a senior vice president at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island and chairwoman of this year’s Go Red campaign. Along the way she got an unexpected - and very personal - primer on heart health.
Her Mom, Donna Daniels, began experiencing shortness of breath last fall. A nurse by training, she had always watched her diet and exercised religiously. But it was nagging jaw pain that finally sent Donna to see a doctor.
Melisssa: ``That came up as one of the leading symptoms of heart disease, or heart issues, for women in particular. We often hear about pain travelling down a left arm, that’s typically more a male thing, although it can certainly happen to women, that didn’t happen to her. The jaw pain was really the trigger.’’
Fortunately Donna did not have a heart attack, but Melissa says it would only have been a matter of time. She received stents and is now good to go.
Melissa, who spoke at last month’s luncheon, had several questions for the audience.
Melissa: ``I asked for survivors in the room to stand, and then I asked for caregivers, people who have taken care of someone who’s had an episode related to heart disease or stroke. I asked, then, who has been impacted - either themselves or in their friends or family - by diabetes or high blood pressure. And to be honest, Jim, that’s when the floodgates opened. And standing on that stage and looking out across that room it was in that questions around diabetes and high blood pressure that the majority of the room stood up. And then I asked if anyone had anyone in their family, or friends or a colleague impacted by heart disease and to my eye standing on that stage, I’m not sure there was anyone left in their seat.’’
So the American Heart Association stresses education and awareness. And just last month CVS Health pledged to raise $10 million over the next three years to support cardiovascular research and education.

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