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July 2014

Sister to Sister

Heart disease is the #1 killer of women, but it doesn’t have to be. Founded in 1999 by women’s health advocate Mrs. Irene Pollin, MSW, PhD (Hon), the Sister to Sister Foundation is dedicated to preventing heart disease in women.

Sister to Sister’s message is that a woman’s risk of heart disease can be lowered by approximately 82% by leading a healthy lifestyle.  Our message of health and wellness empowerment inspire women to eat more healthfully, increase physical activity, reduce stress levels, quit smoking, understand their family health history, and be their own best health advocate when in conversations with their doctor.

But why does Sister to Sister focus on women? These are some heart disease facts that every woman should know, as well as the men who love them.

It is important to know that heart disease affects women and men differently. Each year a significantly larger number of women than men die from it.  Women are far less likely than men to be tested or treated in a timely manner.  Women have more heart attacks that go unrecognized, more repeat heart attacks, and greater risk of stroke after heart attack. 

Women don’t know that heart attack symptoms may be different than in men.  Women are more likely to feel shortness of breath, fatigue, abdominal pressure, nausea or heartburn, or jaw, neck, back, or upper shoulder pain.

Screenings to Save Lives:

Sister to Sister has developed a history of successful community-based programs dedicated to health prevention through education and behavior change.  As a life-saving resource for women, Sister to Sister has provided more than 80,000 free heart health screenings and counseling interventions while educating more than 200,000 women at heart health fairs across the country.

We mobilize women to get a heart disease screening and inspire others to follow their lead. Sister to Sister has been helping community leaders and female executives pass on our heart health message to women they influence.

What makes a Sister to Sister screening so unique is the Five Step Screening Intervention.   

1.    Engaging women to make a commitment to attend a screening and take steps to be responsible for their own health.

2.    The biometric screenings include Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose (sugar), Body Mass Index (BMI) and Waist Circumference.

3.    Immediate, personalized results to understand their personal risk factors. 

4.    Individual counseling sessions for women to review their screening results, discuss what the numbers mean and receive recommendations for lifestyle changes to reduce their heart disease risk. This is a true medical intervention. 

5.    All collected data is added to the Pollin Cardiovascular Database for Women for tracking and research.

In partnership with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the Pollin Cardiovascular Database for Women is producing cutting-edge research that will help to better understand the causes and development of heart disease in women, while continuing to search for new and better treatments.  The results are being published by the American Heart Association, Journal of Women’s Health, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, and the Health Journal.

Online Resources:

The website, www.sistertosister.org  helps women prevent heart disease by providing comprehensive messaging on each major heart disease risk factor, and healthy living recommendations for positive behavior change.  With daily tips, interactive tools, heart healthy recipes, and online community, the Sister to Sister website impacts thousands of women.

Smart for the Heart:

In early February, Sister to Sister and Brigham and Women’s Hospital will be launching an interactive online wellness program (www.smartfortheheart.org) which will offer a powerful health risk assessment to determine one’s potential risk for heart disease.  It will provide online tools and workshops to help participants better understand and improve their cardiovascular health. Participants will receive personalized follow-up communications to keep them engaged in the program, lower their cardiac risk and effect positive behavior change.

Capitol Hill Advocacy Days Program:

Since 2002, the Sister to Sister Foundation has been the only heart-health nonprofit to take its mission of cardiovascular disease prevention through screenings directly to Capitol Hill.

Sister to Sister’s Advocacy Days on Capitol Hill aims to raise awareness of the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, its risk factors and prevention among key policy makers and influencers.

We offer free cardiac screenings with immediate results and counseling sessions, with a comprehensive heart-health action plan to emphasize healthy lifestyle changes. A major component is education through our health program, which offers cutting edge medical information, recommendations for lasting behavior change, and the latest updates from Hill sponsors on cardiovascular legislation.

In honor of Heart Health Month, Sister to Sister will host a briefing in the House of Representatives on the Importance of Chronic Disease Prevention and Controlling Risk Factors.  Top experts from the fields of hypertension, cholesterol, nutrition, research and government will participate. 

Sister to Sister’s program in the U.S. Senate will include leadership from the Centers for Disease Control, the Pan American Health Organization and George Washington University Hospital.

You can find Sister to Sister online through our website, www.sistertosister.org, by joining the conversation on our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/sistertosister, following our tweets @sisterhearts and through our monthly e-newsletter.  You can sign up at http://www.sistertosister.org/e-newsletters.

For more information please contact Lisa Townsend, Director, via email at ltowsend@sistertosister.org.