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Equal Opportunity Killer? Heart Disease Affects SD Women

PHOTO: A woman's ability to manage stress is a major factor that affects her overall heart health. It's one message to heed for Heart Month in February. Photo courtesy of American Heart Association
PHOTO: A woman's ability to manage stress is a major factor that affects her overall heart health. It's one message to heed for Heart Month in February. Photo courtesy of American Heart Association
February 18, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The emphasis will be on women and their heart health at the "Go Red for Women" luncheon, coming up this week in Sioux Falls. The event is part of February's "Heart Month" activities, and a fundraiser for research and education on heart disease.

Women need to hear the important message, said Lauren Forsch, corporate events director for the American Heart Association of South Dakota.

"Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in South Dakota - not just men, and certainly not just women," she said. "So, it's really important that we're able to educate people and share that message."

More than 400 people are expected to attend the luncheon event Friday at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. That's about the number of people who die of heart disease annually in South Dakota.

The keynote speaker for the event will be Joe Piscatella, president and chief executive of the Institute for Fitness and Health, who will talk about how to start and continue healthy lifestyle habits. Piscatella said heart disease has become an "equal opportunity" medical condition.

"Used to be, I would give a lecture and the women would be taking notes for their husbands, and that's changed now as we get more awareness," he said. "It's particularly important to understand that the signs and symptoms are different for women - it might feel like a toothache, it might feel like a backache, not that classic 'elephant sitting on my chest.' "

Piscatella said heart disease is, for the most part, a lifestyle problem.

"This is not so much a problem of who our parents were and what our genetic history is, as it is about what we're eating, how much we're eating; whether or not we're physically active, whether or not we're smoking."

He says he will also point out how managing stress plays a major role in developing a healthy lifestyle.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD