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  2004 June 14 Release.
  For Immediate Release.
  Contact: Bonnie Arkus 609-771-9600


Trenton, NJ, June, 2004 - Heart disease is often more difficult to diagnose in a woman. Women's symptoms often get missed or misdiagnosed. Gender differences in how the disease manifests points to the critical need for a new wellness intervention model. Introducing Women's Well Days at CURVES ®

WHF's Executive Director Bonnie Arkus was recently interviewed about the program and explained its significance to Nursing Spectrum with critical messages. She said "It is most important for women to realize that, under age 50, heart attacks are twice as likely as men's to be fatal. According to the NHLBI Artherosclerosis Risk in Communities report, in 1997, 34,900 women under the age of 55 died of heart attack. This is a serious killer, and as nurses, we need to act far more aggressively in responding to women's symptoms, which are often milder. A recent study reported that 71% of women have an early warning sign of heart attack with sudden onset of extreme weakness that feels like the flu - usually about four weeks prior to suffering a major heart attack event. Other common symptoms are severe indigestion and transient chest discomfort or burning sensation with weakness and dizziness. Women need urgent follow up with appropriate testing. Nurses are on the frontline of medicine and being a strong patient advocate can turn these compelling statistics around.

"Another critical message is that a disproportionate number of deaths continue to affect African American women with high blood pressure being the main culprit. As nurses, we can empower women by teaching those with high blood presure to self-monitor and to follow-up more closely with their primary care practitioners. Gone are the days where a patient must wait a month to learn if the medication is working or not. Too much damage can take place.

"Delays in diagnosis continue to plague women and this contributes to a more turbulent course of treatment for women and a higher death rate. The gap between men's and women's survival continues to widen. First, we must BELIEVE women when they report milder symptoms, then, we must HELP THEM SEEK CARE. New guidelines from the American Heart Association stress this and recommend women be screened as young as 22 years of age. This means that the OB/GYN - as the woman's primary care practitioner - must get involved in the process.

"Women's Well Days© is a structure that allows for nurses to volunteer as Peer Leaders in their local community to oversee discussion groups on health. WHF provides the curriculum. Since CURVES® is such a popular choice for so many women, we've partnered with this fitness club and the franchise owners are offering in-kind donation of space for the meetings to take place. We want to be available to every woman, in every community and in every state. We plan to expand the program through a new Registered Nurse Volunteer Program (RNVP). The program attracts nurses who are invested in a more holistic approach to women's wellness and want to provide a new level of support to women. These women are our neighbors and friends, suffering in silence with heart disease. The partnership with CURVES owners will allow us to make a palpable difference in the lives of women everywhere."


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1999-2000; updates: 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 Women's Heart Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited. The information contained in this Women's Heart Foundation (WHF) Web site is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment, and WHF recommends consultation with your doctor or health care professional.