Heart disease has been an ever-present threat in the family of television personality Joy Behar and her daughter Eve after Joy’s mom experienced a heart attack in her early fifties. That’s why the Behars, in partnership with the makers of Bayer Aspirin and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, are launching Straight Talk: A Woman’s Guide to Heart Health to get women talking to each other and their doctors about heart disease and how to live ProHeart.

To download (Spanish or English) Straight Talk: A Woman’s Guide to Heart Health and enter the sweepstakes, visit the I am ProHeart Facebook page, www.facebook.com/iamproheart, and for additional heart health information, visit IAmProHeart.com.

Sharing or downloading the guide is the first step women can take toward living ProHeart. Each person who downloads the guide can enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win* a trip to New York City to spend the day with Joy Behar and have a heart-to-heart talk with her and a WomenHeart Scientific Advisory Council cardiologist, courtesy of Bayer.

Born from the personal experience of women of all ages and from all backgrounds, the guide gives women an insider’s look at what other women wish they knew before their heart attack experience, from the emotional toll it takes to how caregivers can support loved ones on the home front, as well as insights from medical experts on how to reduce the risk of a first heart attack – or a second or third one. This is especially important because heart disease is the leading killer of women and women are 1.5 times more likely than men to die in the first year following a heart attack. It is aimed at women who have heart disease and those who don’t – yet. The goal is to empower women and give them the knowledge and confidence to become their own heart health advocates.

More than 20,000 heart patients belong to the WomenHeart community, a number that continues to grow each day. WomenHeart Champions – women heart disease survivors who are trained volunteer community educators, advocates, and support network leaders, form a “heels-on-the-ground” army to speak from the heart about what they have learned, and what they wish they’d known sooner. WomenHeart Champions are devoted to helping their sisters, mothers, daughters, friends and communities become more aware of the risks and symptoms of heart disease.

Bayer and WomenHeart created the new guide in response to a clear need for women to know better how to prevent heart disease and, if they have it, how to take the best care of themselves to prevent a subsequent heart attack.

  • Heart disease is the gravest health risk for women. In fact, 420,000 women die each year in the U.S. of cardiovascular disease.
  • Women and men with heart disease often have different symptoms, are often treated differently and have different outcomes. In fact, 64 percent of women who died suddenly of heart disease had no previous symptoms; making early detection and correction of factors like high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes critical.
  • Anxiety or depression in the months following a heart attack is common. For women, psychological risk factors have been linked to behaviors that have a negative impact on cardiovascular health, such as non-adherence to treatment recommendations, lower levels of physical activity and unhealthy dietary habits. In fact, a recent study shows that patients who discontinued use of two cardiovascular treatments after hospitalization were at increased risk for hospitalization, death or emergency department visit.
  • In people who have had a heart attack, regular aspirin therapy, when directed by a doctor, has been shown to reduce second heart attacks by 30 percent. In addition, heart attack survivors on an aspirin regimen, who stop taking it, even for as little as 30 days, have a higher risk of having a second heart attack.

“I wish I had learned more about how to take care of my heart,” said Mildred Rodriguez, WomenHeart Champion. If she’d understood the importance of exercise and a good diet, she says, she might have avoided having a heart attack 12 years ago, at age 52. Now, with the support of her family she exercises, watches portion sizes and takes aspirin regularly, as directed by her doctor. “I’m very proud of myself,” she says. “I want to live a long time.”

“Because heart disease runs in our family, my mother and I have always looked out for each other’s health,” said Eve Behar. “Now, as a new mom, I’m even more aware of the need for families to pull together, face our risks and live well to prevent heart disease. This new guide can help women become empowered to prevent heart disease and take better care of themselves and their loved ones by talking to each other and starting conversations with their doctors.”

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