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For Your Well Being: The Many Faces of Heart Health

February 8, 2007, Vol. V Issue 3

Dear Friends,

I was tickled to read online that the Mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida, (a water show attraction) have taken the Go Red for Women theme into their show. In an effort to bring more awareness of heart disease in women, the “Little Mermaid” is wearing a red tail for every show in February. Now is that creative, or what? And, it was all the mermaids’ idea. Leave it to a woman to be innovative and love getting dressed up for a special occasion!

Perhaps the mermaids had a “heads up” on the Red Shoe Initiative (get the connection? Tails – shoes?) being launched by Spirit of Women this month. More on that in this issue.

Many of our speakers are out in communities across the nation this month educating women about heart health and that can take on many faces. I wanted to share some ideas about that to get you started thinking about next year, as well as for heart health programs held throughout the year. Obviously, we put the spotlight on heart health in February, but it’s not a once a year resolution that gets results any more than a once a year mammogram is the answer to early breast cancer detection. It has to be about action throughout the year, as well, and that’s what programs like the Red Shoe Initiative are all about.

The Many Faces of Heart Health Programs

When it comes to heart health, it’s a good thing to know your numbers. Yet there’s far more to heart health than numbers. I’ve also found that to be true when it comes to planning events focusing on heart health. I have worked with Go Red luncheon organizers, cardiology foundations, women’s service line directors and hospital marketing departments. I have noticed that the one thing they have in common is that everybody’s different. While some put the focus on heart survivors, others put it on prevention with topics like nutrition and fitness. Still others might choose to combine a program featuring one of their own doctors with the entertaining humorous lyrics of a musician-speaker who helps bring some levity to the topic.

On the Speak Well Being Group website, you can search for the speakers we recommend for heart health programs two different ways. Under TOPICS, choose HEART HEALTH and you’ll get a selection (in random and different order every time) of all of our speakers who can speak specifically regarding heart health whether it’s the physical muscle or some other aspect like nutrition or the mind-body connection.

Or, under EVENTS, choose HEART HEALTH EVENTS, and a selection of all of our speakers who are appropriate for heart health events will come up. You get more choices under  EVENTS because the horizons are wider. The event may include screenings, exhibits, and physician talks. For the meeting planner who wants more of a motivational speaker to lighten things up, this offers more selections.

Many of our speakers live in both worlds so that’s why there is quite a bit of overlap. One such speaker is Dr. Karen Wolfe. She is a licensed physician in her homeland Australia. She worked initially as a family physician followed by eight years of experience in the administration of national health care, wellness and senior programs in her role as the Medical Director of the Australian Government Health Service.  She also completed her Masters Degree in Psychology at National University in Irvine, California and she has a special interest in health care reform, disease state management and mind-body medicine. She is a national and international speaker, author and mindful life coach. Her most recent book is Create the Body Your Soul Desires: The Friendship Solution to Weight, Energy and Sexuality, co-authored with Dr. Deborah Kern. She is a wife, mother and stepmother living in Mission Viejo, California.

“It’s more important than ever before for women to learn to be body-wise and to listen to their hearts,” Karen says. “Heart disease in women shows up differently than in men, and there is truly a connection between matters of the heart and the heart muscle.”

Karen is a master at taking the science and relating it to people so they can not only understand what it is, but learn how it relates to them personally and what they can do about it. Here’s a small sampling of what she has to say about stress and the heart.

“Life’s daily pressures – jobs, relationships, money, raising children and currently, continuous news about war and terrorism – can take a toll on the body. They have become such constant companions that many of us operate with ever-present feelings of pressure, anxiety or burnout.

“The heart is one of the major targets for stress-induced illness. Unchecked stress sends out complex signals that unleash a cascade of activity. Stress hormones activate the production of proteins called inflammatory cytokines, which cause immune cells to become sticky and grab onto the lining of coronary arteries. This contributes to the build-up of artery-narrowing plaque, which can cause heart attacks. Stress also raises blood pressure and causes blood to become stickier and more likely to clot,” Karen says.

And, her prescription for dealing with stress:

“The key is to listen to your body for signs of stress. Take time to slow down and listen. What is your body saying to you? A few times a day, stop and take some deep breaths and allow the stress to leave your body. Literally blow it out. I call this Conscious Powerful Relaxation (CPR) and it will save your life! I have five specific tools I teach people to bust the stress:

1. Friends
2. Family
3. Faith
4. Forgiveness
5. Fun

These are all stress busters that your heart will thank you for!”

In her program, “Listening to the Female Heart – The Whole Truth About Women and Heart Health,” Karen covers the unique aspects of heart disease in women – understanding, avoiding and surviving it – including the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects. She reveals the research that tells us the power of the heart’s intelligence and the role family, friends, faith, forgiveness and fun play in our health and healing. And she shares tools for aligning heart and mind and thriving — not just surviving.

One of the things I often hear back from clients is how down to earth our speakers are.  I think that’s especially true of Karen. She delivers valuable information in an understandable way and she’ s just like one of the girls. Visit the Speak Well Being Group website to learn more about Dr. Karen Wolfe, who speaks on a wide variety of topics in addition to heart health.

Red Shoes Make the Best Dancing Shoes

“Day of Dance for Heart Health” is coming up Saturday, Feb. 24, and fun, informational events will be taking place in more than 50 communities across America. You can access locations here. Adding a new dimension to the success of Day of Dance, the Spirit of Women Hospital Network has announced the launch of a new yearlong “Red Shoe for Action Initiative.” It will encourage women in their local communities to take action to help prevent heart disease and strokes just as its sister program, the “Red Dress Project,” successfully raises national awareness of heart health for women.

“Our hope for the new Red Shoe for Action Initiative is that women will truly recognize what they need to do, all year long, to help prevent the chance of developing heart disease or having a stroke for themselves, their sisters, mothers, and friends,” said Tanya Abreu, President and National Program Director, Spirit of Women Hospital Network. “Having fun and being healthy doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive — we hope women will join us for Day of Dance to have fun, discover a new passion, embrace the goals of the Red Shoe for Action Initiative, and end up healthier, with healthier families, in the long run.”

“The Red Shoe Initiative” will include local events in communities across the U.S. throughout the year. Each event, like “Day of Dance for Heart Health,” will take on the flair and character of each community that serves as a host. These events will consist of evening receptions, fashion shows, and various events in skating rinks and other venues that encourage women to take action for their heart health.

“Day of Dance for Heart Health” events will be hosted by more than 50 affiliate hospitals of the Spirit of Women Hospital Network. Lasting from four to six hours, the events will include dancing, speakers, screenings, tips on healthy cooking and stress reduction, and other activities to remind participants that heart disease prevention can be a fun and energizing experience. Click here for a list of participating hospitals.


A Heart Healthy Snack – Homemade Hummus

My husband and I picked up a recipe for Hummus last year from the American Heart Association booth at the Day of Dance festivities at Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington. It’s become a staple in our house – always on hand to pull out of the fridge with the carrots, celery and red pepper strips. I like it especially because my husband has made it his thing – he makes it! Even though a jar of tahini is a little pricey, I still think it’s a bargain to make your own hummus versus buying the small tubs in the deli section at the grocery store. And when you make it yourself, you know the ingredients are fresh. Feel free to experiment and make your own flavors by adding things like roasted red peppers. This is a sneaky way to get your family to eat beans and get more fiber in their diets.

Until next time, be good to your heart and take care of yourself, for your good health and those you love.

Yours truly in good health,


2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice, (about 4 medium lemons)
1/2 cup tahini**
1/4 cup water (or more)
3 cloves garlic or 1 1/2 tsp bottled minced garlic
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin to taste
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional) (not optional, says husband, just maybe a little conservative)
½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley

In a blender or food processor, combine chickpeas, tahini, 1/4 cup water, garlic, oil, cumin, salt, cayenne and pepper. Process, scraping sides occasionally, until mixture is a smooth paste, add more water, a few drops at a time. Stir in the parsley.  Reserve a little to sprinkle on top for garnish if you like.

**You can find tahini, a Middle Eastern sesame seed paste, in health food stores and in the foreign food sections of some supermarkets. If there is no Arab food near the Mexican and Chinese, look for it where you’d find peanut butter in the health food section of the store. You can also make your own by blending ½ cup sesame seeds, 1 Tbsp. water, 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, and a few drops of vegetable oil.

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