Stopping The Number One Killer Of Women

Go Red for Women

(L-R): Yvette Mingo (Executive Director, American Heart Association, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate), Shari Sudano (heart disease survivor), Leana Wen, M.D. (Baltimore City Healthy Commissioner), and Shannon Winakur, M.D. (Medical Director of the Women’s Heart Center at Saint Agnes Hospital), at Wednesday’s American Heart Month press conference.

By: Emilie Gilde – Program Director, Tobacco Use and CVD Prevention (Baltimore City Health Department)

How important is your heart?  You can have a heart of gold, a heavy heart or even a change of heart.  But a healthy heart is the most important!

Nationally, one in three women die of heart disease and stroke.  And did you know that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the overall number one killer in Baltimore,  is responsible for 30 percent of the deaths of women in the city and for 15 percent of all premature deaths?  In total, for men and women, heart disease claims approximately 2,000 lives in Baltimore each year.

While heart disease should be something that we think about all year round, we should be paying special attention to this issue during February, which is American Heart Month.

Combatting heart disease is a priority for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake’s administration and for the Baltimore City Health Department.

The top risk factors for CVD are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and prediabetes, being overweight or obese, being physically inactive, and having an unhealthy diet.

Health-promoting neighborhoods can help prevent CVD.   Prevention activities include maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, smoking cessation, and the prevention and treatment of other contributing health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.  However, steps to prevention can sometimes be inhibited by socio and environmental factors.  For example, living in neighborhoods that give us access to fresh foods including fruits and vegetables, opportunities for physical activity and safe streets to exercise in, and knowledge of and access to resources for smoking cessation enhance our ability to live lifestyles that help prevent heart disease.

One example of how Baltimore is implementing initiatives to help citizens get past the barriers to healthy living is Baltimarket, Baltimore’s Virtual Supermarket Program.  An online grocery ordering/delivery system, the Virtual Supermarket Program brings food to neighborhoods with low-vehicle ownership and little access to healthy foods.  Residents can place grocery orders online and then pick up their order weekly at their community site. The delivery cost is paid by the Health Department.

Quitting cigarette smoking is another way to help prevent heart disease and lead a healthier lifestyle. Residents can access free smoking cessation counseling over the phone at 1-800-QUITNOW . If you are a pregnant woman who smokes, right now there are gift card incentives (while supplies last) available for calling while pregnant and after your baby is born. To find smoking cessation resources in your neighborhood you can visit our website or call us today at 410-361-9765.



Finally, I encourage everyone to show their support and wear red this Friday, February 6 for the American Heart Association’sWear Red DayAnd on Sunday, Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen will join Mayor Rawlings-Blake and many supporters at Mt. Olive Holy Evangelistic Church for the 11th Annual Red Dress Sunday hosted by the Women’s Heart Center at Saint Agnes Hospital, an innovative faith-based health education program designed to raise awareness of the devastating effects of heart disease among women.

Let’s take a stand together to put a stop to the number one killer of women.

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