Erlanger, AHA Launch "Go Red For Women"

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Erlanger Health System, in partnership with the American Heart Association, celebrated the association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign on Friday with a joint proclamation from Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger.

The event, hosted by Erlanger President and CEO Charlesetta Woodard Thompson, launched the “Go Red” national campaign in Chattanooga -- a movement created by women, for women, dedicated to uncovering the truth about women and heart disease: heart disease can kill you or a woman you love.

During the event, Dr. Carol Gruver, cardiologist with UT Erlanger Cardiology, discussed the differences between heart attack symptoms for men and women. Mayor Littlefield read the official proclamation, and Dr. Melanie Blake of Academic Internal Medicine, presented initiatives for the Go Red movement on both a national and local level.

All babies born at Erlanger received a red cap from the American Heart Association. Throughout the month of February, Erlanger and other area businesses are illuminating buildings with the color red in support of the Go Red initiative. 

Shown below are some highlights from Dr. Gruver’s discussion on women and heart disease:

  • Heart disease is a big problem for women. Each year 500,000 women die of a heart attack in the US - that amounts to about 1 womandying of heart disease every minute.
  • Since 1984, more women than men have died of CVD and the gap continues to widen.
  • Despite these sobering statistics, many women perceive cancer-particularly breast cancer- to be their greatest risk. In reality, more than two times as many women die each year from heart disease than from all cancers combined.
  • Currently less than 60% of women correctly identify heart disease as the #1 cause of death in women but only about 16% of womenbelieve it to be their biggest threat to life.

"So why is there this disconnect between women's perceptions and women's reality? I think it's related to many tightly-held myths out there that are difficult to debunk. A popular myth that still persists is that “Women don't have heart attacks. It's a man's disease.”

"Who hasn't seen Hollywood's version of what a heart attack looks like? It’s typically an overweight middle-aged man, perhaps smoking a cigarette or eating a donut- who develops sudden onset of severe chest pain, clutches his chest, and soon collapses. Women are less likely to present in such a dramatic fashion and are less likely to have typical crushing chest pain.

"In fact, as many as 40% of women don't present with chest pain at all but have unusual or atypical symptoms that may include unexplained shortness of breath, pain in the shoulder, arm, mid back or upper abdomen.  Women are more likely to have nausea, vomiting, feel faint, black out, or experience excessive fatigue as the dominant symptom. Some women present with stroke-like symptoms or confusion.

"These atypical symptoms often result in denial in the part of women that they could be having a heart attack and leads to delays in treatment  On average, women with heart attack symptoms present to the hospital 1 hour later than men. 38% of women who have their first heart attack will die within 1 year, compared to 25% of men. Under the age of 50, women's heart attacks are twice as likely to be fatal compared to men.

"Another commonly held myth is that Heart disease is for old women. While it is true that the incidence of heart disease increases as womenage particular after the age of 60, younger women should not be complacent.

"Younger women are afforded some protection against heart disease due to the protective actions of estrogen. Smoking, abnormal blood lipids, and diabetes erase a woman's estrogen protection.

"Despite an overall reduction in heart-related deaths in the population, there is an alarming trend among younger women. Women between the ages of about 35 and 45 are dying from heart attacks at an increase rate over the last few years. This increase is felt to be largely related to the epidemic of diabetes and obesity in this country.

"A common myth that I hear in both women and men is that heart attacks are random events. There is nothing random about a heart attack. A heart attack represents the final step in a process that has been going on for a long time. Fatty deposits build up in the arteries that supply the heart blood and oxygen but this is a process that has been going on for years, even decades.  The person who has a heart attack today did not have normal arteries last week.

"It has been estimated that 80-90% of heart disease could be prevented by proper diet, exercise, and management of risk factors such as high BP, cholesterol, smoking, and diabetes.

"Given the long time-course leading up to a heart attack, we are never too young to start preventing one. Risk factor management is even more important for women than men, particularly in regards to diabetes.

"Here at Erlanger we are dedicated to Women's Heart Health. We understand that when it comes to our hearts, women are different than men and a one size-fits-all approach won’t work. Our state of the art imaging capabilities, clinical research, screening programs, and interventional capabilities, along with our dedicated staff of cardiologists and nurses, give us unique capabilities in the prevention and treatment of heart disease in women."

Mayor Ron Littlefield
Mayor Ron Littlefield

Rees Skillern Cancer Institute Achieves Full Membership To The Lynch Syndrome Screening Network

Rees Skillern Cancer Institute at CHI Memorial has achieved full membership to the Lynch Syndrome Screening Network which promotes universal tumor screening for everyone with newly diagnosed colorectal and endometrial cancers.    "Lynch Syndrome is an inherited disorder that increases the risk for colorectal, endometrial, and many other types of cancer.  The network ... (click for more)

BlueCross Adds Hearing Benefits For Seniors In 2017

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee intends to help the large number of seniors who suffer from hearing loss by offering high-quality, affordable hearing benefits in its 2017 Medicare Advantage plans known as BlueAdvantage. In a partnership with TruHearing, a national hearing aid provider, BlueAdvantage members will be eligible for an annual hearing exam, plus two hearing aids ... (click for more)

Cold Case Unit Makes Arrest In Murders Of Brothers In Brainerd Almost 20 Years Ago; Detectives Say Brainerd Jeweler Rick Davis Tied To Incident

The Cold Case Unit set up by District Attorney Neal Pinkston has made an arrest in the murders of two brothers in Brainerd almost 20 years ago. The Hamilton County Grand Jury on Monday indicted 52-year old Christopher Jeffre Johnson on two counts of first-degree murder in the January 1997 deaths of Sean and Donny Goetcheus. The 25-year old Sean Goetcheus and his ... (click for more)

Gang Member, 22, Shot In The Arm On Wilcox Boulevard Early Tuesday Morning

A 22-year-old man was shot in the arm in the 1800 block of Wilcox Boulevard early Tuesday morning. Just after midnight, Chattanooga Police responded to a report of shots fired. Upon arrival, police located Jakobi Buthelezi Johnson suffering from a very minor, single gunshot wound. Hamilton County EMS transported the victim to a local hospital for treatment. The victim ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Picture a sold-out baseball game at Wrigley Field or Nationals Park packed with 40,000 fans. That image represents roughly the same number of women and men who die from breast cancer each year.  In Tennessee alone, an estimated 900 women will die from the disease in 2016. It is a sad statistic, but there is some good news: thanks to early detection and improved treatments, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What Southerners Sing

Barry Norris plays the organ at Birmingham’s East Lake United Methodist Church and two days ago the church hosted what we used to call “A Singing on the Grounds.” Today it is called a “Hymnfest” and, believe it or not, it is has to be just as fun today as it was 100 years ago when our forefathers tied their horse and wagon to a tree. It just so happens I know a little bit about ... (click for more)