WSSU Research Leads to New Heart Attack Prevention Program

June 3, 2014

"Saving One Sister at a Time," a free program created to increase knowledge about preventing heart attacks among African American women, will hold a community kickoff from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 7, at the Piedmont Park housing community, 1130 East 29th Street.

"The program was developed by a group of African American women in Forsyth and Guilford counties during a research study I conducted in 2012," said Dr. Wanda K. Lawrence, associate professor of nursing at Winston-Salem State University.  "The kickoff will introduce the study to the community and I hope it will help to recruit 20 women to participate in a seven-week program beginning the end of June."

As part of the community event, information will be provided to raise awareness of the fact that African American women have more heart attacks than other groups.  The event will offer services that include an exercise therapist, dietician and the WSSU Rams Know H.O.W. mobile clinic that will be providing blood pressure checks and conduct initial screenings for the study.  There will also be games and prizes for those attending.

The death rate for African American women who have heart attacks is twice that of white women.  Since women tend to present symptoms of a heart attack that are atypical, African American women in particular are not aware of the warning signs so they do not react as quickly as necessary to get the treatment needed.

"During the study I conducted, I found that approximately 80 percent of the women I met with who had experienced a heart attack did not recognize these warning signs," Lawrence said.  "That means there was a delay in receiving care and for many women that can mean medical treatment comes too late to save them.  This same group of women provided in-depth information that I needed to include in an educational program that would increase awareness of the risk factors of cardiac disease and the signs and symptoms of a heart attack."

Out of this research, Lawrence developed a seven-week program that includes information on healthy food preparation and healthy eating, fitness classes, a self-awareness session, and how to better manage your heart health.

The original research was made possible by a Research Initiative Grant Lawrence received in 2011.  A WSSU faculty grant is allowing her to implement the program as a pilot study based on that research.

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