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Loving Your Heart…in Red

Orlinda "Orie" Platero is a Navajo woman who is used to transitioning between two worlds.

By Fia Curley

Orlinda "Orie" Platero is a Navajo woman who is used to transitioning between two worlds.

While living at home in New Mexico from 1997 to 2001, Platero's duties included taking care of the livestock and horses and hauling wood and coal for heat. Sure her duties changed since she began to work as a grant specialist for Indian Health Services (IHS).

In November 1999, before her father passed away from heart disease, he asked Platero to take better care of her heart through healthy living and increased exercise.

But when Platero, 50, returned to Maryland to work for IHS, she said it seemed harder to get a workout comparable to the one she received when taking care of family chores.

"I really have to force myself to be physically active," she said, adding that IHS recently put in exercise equipment for the staff.

Platero's motivating physical activities include women's basketball through her church, walking, stomach crunches and weight lifting.

"My endurance has increased and that's a big deal for me," Platero said. "The first time I started playing [basketball] again, I was dying the first quarter. I wanted a sub. Now I can play all four quarters."

Platero isn't just relying on exercise to take care of her heart.

"For myself, I have completely cut out my soda intake and it's a struggle for me," she said, adding that she's been going strong for a month now. "I just don't purchase it even when I go out to eat."

Instead Platero selects water or teas as her beverages of choice.

She said she also attempts to share the good habits with her 14 siblings, who also have the same battles of diabetes, being overweight, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Whenever she ventures, Platero said, she attempts to include her family members in activities, such as walking, volleyball and mountain climbing.

As one of the women participating in the Heart Truth Campaign, Platero is taking the message of her journey to a national audience as well.

Platero said it got to the point where her clothes felt a little too snug and activities like putting on socks or stockings and tying her shoes seemed uncomfortable.

"I thought, 'I've got to change. I want that longevity,'" Platero said. "I'm finding out it gets harder to lose weight. As you get older it gets near impossible. When you're younger you can eat whatever and lose weight"

The Heart Truth LogoAs the Project Director for Fia Curley

Orlinda "Orie" Platero is a Navajo woman who is used to transitioning between two worlds.

While living at home in New Mexico from 1997 to 2001, Platero's duties included taking care of the livestock and horses and hauling wood and coal for heat. Sure her duties changed since she began to work as a grant specialist for Indian Health Services (IHS).

In November 1999, before her father passed away from heart disease, he asked Platero to take better care of her heart through healthy living and increased exercise.

But when Platero, 50, returned to Maryland to work for IHS, she said it seemed harder to get a workout comparable to the one she received when taking care of family chores.

"I really have to force myself to be physically active," she said, adding that IHS recently put in exercise equipment for the staff.

Platero's motivating physical activities include women's basketball through her church, walking, stomach crunches and weight lifting.

"My endurance has increased and that's a big deal for me," Platero said. "The first time I started playing [basketball] again, I was dying the first quarter. I wanted a sub. Now I can play all four quarters."

Platero isn't just relying on exercise to take care of her heart.

"For myself, I have completely cut out my soda intake and it's a struggle for me," she said, adding that she's been going strong for a month now. "I just don't purchase it even when I go out to eat."

Instead Platero selects water or teas as her beverages of choice.

She said she also attempts to share the good habits with her 14 siblings, who also have the same battles of diabetes, being overweight, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Whenever she ventures, Platero said, she attempts to include her family members in activities, such as walking, volleyball and mountain climbing.

As one of the women participating in the Heart Truth Campaign, Platero is taking the message of her journey to a national audience as well.

Platero said it got to the point where her clothes felt a little too snug and activities like putting on socks or stockings and tying her shoes seemed uncomfortable.

"I thought, 'I've got to change. I want that longevity,'" Platero said. "I'm finding out it gets harder to lose weight. As you get older it gets near impossible. When you're younger you can eat whatever and lose weight"

The Heart Truth LogoAs the Project Director for The Heart Truth Campaign Ann Taubenheim, said although it may take years, she will continue working until women start taking their heart health personally, like Orie Platero, and the red dress becomes as synonymous with heart disease as the pink ribbon is with breast cancer awareness.

"Most women aren't aware that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women," Taubenheim said. "Most women think, 'it won't happen to me' even though they have risk factors."

An annual survey taken by Lifetime Television in conjunction with The National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute found that 55 percent of women said they knew heart disease was the No. 1 killer of women, up from 46 percent a year ago.

And although the results are showing an improvement in education, Taubenheim said the 69 percent of women who do not think they are personally at risk for heart disease usually believe having a healthy habit will balance out an unhealthy habit. However, unhealthy habits don't just add up, Taubenheim said, but they multiply the likelihood of future heart problems.

"Basically there are two risk factors we can't do anything about: our genetics and our age," she said. "The other risk factors are something you can control."

Physical inactivity, smoking, high cholesterol and blood pressure, diabetes and being overweight or obese all contribute to heart disease.

These ingredients for heart problems can be found in the minority communities, making targeted outreach and calculated networking a necessary component of the campaign.

"We know the need is great among women of color," Taubenheim said. "We don't have the resources to do it alone and that's why we have partnerships, because everyone's got to work together."

The Campaign maintains corporate partnerships, like cereal maker General Mills, to spread the word on a national level, while offering information for community programs such as faith-based initiatives.

And although it has taken some time, Taubenheim said issues regarding heart disease awareness seem to be taking root with participation from spokeswomen such as Actress Angela Bassett and with participation during New York 's Fashion Week. And through these agents people seem to be grasping the reality that no one is immune to the effects of heart disease.

"Piece by piece, layer by layer, it's coming together," she said, "slowly but surely."

For a broader approach, a variety of avenues are being accessed through the Campaign's parent organization, the NHBLI.

From seeking policy changes to focusing on the family, the strategy is no longer about just competing for people's attention, but winning it to guide them toward healthier choices.

The elimination of trans-fats from restaurants and foods, the reduction of fattening foods in school cafeterias and purchasing opportunities for low-sodium and healthy items in neighborhood grocery stores are all steps in the right direction, according to Robinson Fulwood, senior manager for Public Health Program Health Development for NHBLI. He equates the movement to non-smoking scenarios, leaving patrons with only healthy options to pick.

But it's not enough just to offer the right foods. Physical activity is vital.

"I don't think kids or adults realize the benefits of physical activity," Fulwood said. That's why it needs to be related to family time, which may result in stronger relationships.

However, change may take more than just offering the right items. That is why classes are offered to help people make lifestyle changes in the little things that can contribute to healthy hearts and long lives.

"Change will require a little budgeting," said Matilde Alvarado, coordinator of Minority Health Education and Outreach Activities for NHLBI. "People go the store and they buy things they don't need because they don't have a list. Go with a menu. People learn skills and then it doesn't seem as hard as it did before. At the end you see the savings."

To pinpoint successful avenues of change, Alvarado and Fulwood have also targeted women who often impact decisions for the family or are heads of the household.

"We know from our focus groups that minority women are geared toward helping their family first and taking care of themselves later," Alvarado said. "Reaching women is a vital strategy."

The program Sister to Sister Exit Disclaimer uses mini health fairs and screening events to focus on women during their nine-month campaign, which culminates Feb. 16 with National Woman's Heart Day, Exit Disclaimer held this year in 16 cities across the continental United States .

Each health fair will present local speakers, perform fitness and healthy cooking demonstrations and offer screenings for cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure. If participants are found to be at risk, free counseling will be available on-site for assistance.

In Seattle , Wash. , members of The Hope Heart Institute Exit Disclaimer take a comprehensive approach to educating area residents with their Take Heart programs Exit Disclaimer and educating underserved populations that are tailored to participants.

"We're small but we're mighty," said Fianna Dickson, director of public relations, adding that the institute also offers free stroke screening.

Available for children, teens and women, the programs offer information for healthy living throughout the day. For students, Youth and Kids Take Heart takes place during the school day, supplying the need for state-approved education about the cardiovascular system, fitness, nutrition and self-improvement. Events even incorporate parents of students.

"The good news is there's so much you can do," Dickson said. "It's incredible how preventable this disease is."

With Women Take Heart Exit Disclaimer, educational events take place in the evenings and are accompanied with free childcare and meals. The free program is open to all adults and focuses on improving the health of women and their family members.

"It's one thing to say 'exercise for 30 minutes a day,' but how are you going to do that when you have two kids, a job, a husband and work." Dickson said. "It's the small decisions, the small choices that can lead to huge results."

Action Steps

  • Striving for a low-fat diet
  • Getting 30 minutes of brisk daily exercise - this can even be broken up into two 15-minute walks
  • Losing extra weight
  • Reducing salt intake
  • Managing stress
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Not smoking
  • Managing cholesterol
Related Articles

--

Fia Curley is a writer for the OMHRC. Comments? Email: fcurley@minorityhealth.hhs.gov

Links

Heart Disease Facts
http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlID=23

Heart Disease Stats
http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlID=23

Resources
http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlID=23

Heart and Vascular Disease Information
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/index.htm

What are Your Risk Factors for Heart Disease?
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/educational/hearttruth/lower-risk/risk-factors.htm

">The Heart Truth Campaign Ann Taubenheim, said although it may take years, she will continue working until women start taking their heart health personally, like Orie Platero, and the red dress becomes as synonymous with heart disease as the pink ribbon is with breast cancer awareness.

"Most women aren't aware that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women," Taubenheim said. "Most women think, 'it won't happen to me' even though they have risk factors."

An annual survey taken by Lifetime Television in conjunction with The National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute found that 55 percent of women said they knew heart disease was the No. 1 killer of women, up from 46 percent a year ago.

And although the results are showing an improvement in education, Taubenheim said the 69 percent of women who do not think they are personally at risk for heart disease usually believe having a healthy habit will balance out an unhealthy habit. However, unhealthy habits don't just add up, Taubenheim said, but they multiply the likelihood of future heart problems.

"Basically there are two risk factors we can't do anything about: our genetics and our age," she said. "The other risk factors are something you can control."

Physical inactivity, smoking, high cholesterol and blood pressure, diabetes and being overweight or obese all contribute to heart disease.

These ingredients for heart problems can be found in the minority communities, making targeted outreach and calculated networking a necessary component of the campaign.

"We know the need is great among women of color," Taubenheim said. "We don't have the resources to do it alone and that's why we have partnerships, because everyone's got to work together."

The Campaign maintains corporate partnerships, like cereal maker General Mills, to spread the word on a national level, while offering information for community programs such as faith-based initiatives.

And although it has taken some time, Taubenheim said issues regarding heart disease awareness seem to be taking root with participation from spokeswomen such as Actress Angela Bassett and with participation during New York 's Fashion Week. And through these agents people seem to be grasping the reality that no one is immune to the effects of heart disease.

"Piece by piece, layer by layer, it's coming together," she said, "slowly but surely."

For a broader approach, a variety of avenues are being accessed through the Campaign's parent organization, the NHBLI.

From seeking policy changes to focusing on the family, the strategy is no longer about just competing for people's attention, but winning it to guide them toward healthier choices.

The elimination of trans-fats from restaurants and foods, the reduction of fattening foods in school cafeterias and purchasing opportunities for low-sodium and healthy items in neighborhood grocery stores are all steps in the right direction, according to Robinson Fulwood, senior manager for Public Health Program Health Development for NHBLI. He equates the movement to non-smoking scenarios, leaving patrons with only healthy options to pick.

But it's not enough just to offer the right foods. Physical activity is vital.

"I don't think kids or adults realize the benefits of physical activity," Fulwood said. That's why it needs to be related to family time, which may result in stronger relationships.

However, change may take more than just offering the right items. That is why classes are offered to help people make lifestyle changes in the little things that can contribute to healthy hearts and long lives.

"Change will require a little budgeting," said Matilde Alvarado, coordinator of Minority Health Education and Outreach Activities for NHLBI. "People go the store and they buy things they don't need because they don't have a list. Go with a menu. People learn skills and then it doesn't seem as hard as it did before. At the end you see the savings."

To pinpoint successful avenues of change, Alvarado and Fulwood have also targeted women who often impact decisions for the family or are heads of the household.

"We know from our focus groups that minority women are geared toward helping their family first and taking care of themselves later," Alvarado said. "Reaching women is a vital strategy."

The program Sister to Sister Exit Disclaimer uses mini health fairs and screening events to focus on women during their nine-month campaign, which culminates Feb. 16 with National Woman's Heart Day, Exit Disclaimer held this year in 16 cities across the continental United States .

Each health fair will present local speakers, perform fitness and healthy cooking demonstrations and offer screenings for cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure. If participants are found to be at risk, free counseling will be available on-site for assistance.

In Seattle , Wash. , members of The Hope Heart Institute Exit Disclaimer take a comprehensive approach to educating area residents with their Take Heart programs Exit Disclaimer and educating underserved populations that are tailored to participants.

"We're small but we're mighty," said Fianna Dickson, director of public relations, adding that the institute also offers free stroke screening.

Available for children, teens and women, the programs offer information for healthy living throughout the day. For students, Youth and Kids Take Heart takes place during the school day, supplying the need for state-approved education about the cardiovascular system, fitness, nutrition and self-improvement. Events even incorporate parents of students.

"The good news is there's so much you can do," Dickson said. "It's incredible how preventable this disease is."

With Women Take Heart Exit Disclaimer, educational events take place in the evenings and are accompanied with free childcare and meals. The free program is open to all adults and focuses on improving the health of women and their family members.

"It's one thing to say 'exercise for 30 minutes a day,' but how are you going to do that when you have two kids, a job, a husband and work." Dickson said. "It's the small decisions, the small choices that can lead to huge results."

Action Steps

  • Striving for a low-fat diet
  • Getting 30 minutes of brisk daily exercise - this can even be broken up into two 15-minute walks
  • Losing extra weight
  • Reducing salt intake
  • Managing stress
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Not smoking
  • Managing cholesterol
Related Articles

--

Fia Curley is a writer for the OMHRC. Comments? Email: fcurley@minorityhealth.hhs.gov

Links

Heart Disease Facts
http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlID=23

Heart Disease Stats
http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlID=23

Resources
http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlID=23

Heart and Vascular Disease Information
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/index.htm

What are Your Risk Factors for Heart Disease?
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/educational/hearttruth/lower-risk/risk-factors.htm



Content Last Modified: 2/3/2012 11:32:00 AM
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