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Focus on matters of the heart

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By Kirsten Laskey

Heart disease seems to be full of stealth. Like a predator approaching its prey, cardiovascular diseases can creep unnoticed and silent until they spring into a brutal attack. Similar to other predators, these diseases can be misunderstood. Therefore, the Los Alamos Heart Council is providing some education and insight to these quiet killers.

The council is hosting its annual community seminar at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the First Baptist Church, located at 2200 Diamond Drive.

In addition to  supper and free blood pressure checks, the seminar will feature a presentation by Dr. Kathleen Blake, a board certified cardiologist at the New Mexico Heart Institute.

Blake is focusing her talk on women and how they are affected by heart diseases. Some women believe cardiovascular diseases mainly affect men, but the truth reveals a different picture.

According to the American Heart Association, “Heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases are devastating to women, too. In fact, coronary heart disease, which causes heart attack, is the single leading cause of death for American women. Many women believe that cancer is more of a threat, but they’re wrong. Nearly twice as many women in the United States die from heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases than from all forms of cancer, including breast cancer.”

Locally, many women seem to be paying attention to this fact, said Ann ReVelle, past president of the Heart Council. She explained last year the council hosted a talk at the Betty Ehart Senior Center about heart disease and the women in the audience had a strong response to the presentation.

“Based on the fact that we had quite a response from the senior center and based on the fact that people are going undiagnosed; they are unaware of the prevalence of heart disease in women,” she said, “Dr. (Carolyn) Linnebur, who serves on the Heart Council, knows the doctor who is going to be speaking and invited her personally (to speak at the seminar) because she’s an expert in this field.”

Blake will discuss the challenges of diagnosing and treating women with heart disease. Additionally, she will cover the risk factor analysis and use of newer tests to identify heart disease early.

ReVelle said, “Since heart disease is the number one killer of women and men, it’s important for people to know the risk factors and know what they can do to prevent heart disease and learn the newest in diagnosis and treatment from an expert.”

Blake, Linnebur explained, “has been in the Albuquerque area since 1988 and she has had a particular interest in women’s heart disease … she’s been extremely active in teaching this area and intervention.”

Linnebur added that Blake has been involved in numerous coalitions and committees such as the Women’s Heart Disease Coalition in 1990 and 1991. She has also been on the governor’s task force for health care reform since 2003 and Blake’s work has awarded her the New Mexico Women Sustaining the American Spirit Award by Rep. Heather Wilson.

“She’s had a lot of experience in this area and she is very interested in this area,” Linnebur said.

So what are the best defenses against predators of the heart? Blake will discuss heart healthy diets and regular check ups for cholesterol levels, Linnebur said. She added Blake will discuss the rule of hypertension and the rule of salt in women’s hypertension as well as exercise.

Linnebur said women should listen to Blake’s talk because oftentimes they assume the role of the caregiver. She explained some women become so immersed in taking care of others that they forget to take care of themselves.

“We would like to make women aware of things they can do to make themselves healthier,” she said.

The seminar is free but registration is requested. To register, go to www.losalamosheartcouncil.org or call the Los Alamos Cooperative Extension Service at 662-2656.

Linnebur said the Heart Council has hosted the seminar for more than 10 years. It helps the council fulfill its desire to educate people about having a healthy heart.

She encourages everyone to attend the seminar. Everyone, Linnebur said, can benefit from what Blake has to say.