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Heart Disease Linked to Mississippi’s Multitude of Health Problems

By Rhonda Miller | Published 03 Feb 2012 07:50pm | comments
Lucy Hazeur, of Pass Christian, left, and Rose Juzang, of Gulfport, attend Go Red for Women in Biloxi.

Heart disease is the leading killer of women across the nation and the issue is multiplied in Mississippi with stubborn problems of obesity, unhealthy diets and inadequate exercise. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports how wearing red is one way to promote heart health in Mississippi.

The sea of red dresses, red shoes and red purses at the American Heart Association’s "Go Red for Women" in Biloxi Friday marked the kick-off for American Heart Month. The 600 attendees all dressed in red are more like a tide of warning to stop eating fried foods. Stop smoking. Stop sitting too long. And stop denying that heart disease hits women, often in unexpected ways.

"I just had this terrific pain in my in my back. I mean just a spasm effect. I mean it was excruciating pain."

That’s Rose Juzang of Gulfport who found out, 10 years ago, one of her arteries was partly blocked.

"I did prolong it, because I always attributed it to indigestion, rather than the heart,"  Juzang says. "I’m still in denial that it’s my heart."

Denial is a big part of the problem cardiologist Mahmoud Zayed finds in hisGulf Coast practice.

"Women still believe that heart disease is not their main problem, that their main problem is cancer.  But as you know, heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined. That’s one reason. Another reason is actually physician bias. Physicians tend to take women’s symptoms less seriously than they take men’s," says Zayed.

During this American Heart Month, Fiona Lipscomb, Gulf Coast Director for the American Heart Association, says educational efforts are being stepped up to let women know heart health begins with small changes.

"A lot of people seem to think that, you know, healthy foods like fresh fruit and fresh vegetables are more expensive," Lipscomb says. "And so for the lower income families, they tend to opt out for the fast foods, because they are cheaper. But these days, even the fast foods are providing a healthy alternative."

The American Heart Association recommendations to reduce the risk of heart disease include: avoiding cigarette smoke, eating lean meats and poultry, cutting  back on added sugar, and exercising  regularly.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death - for men and women - in Mississippi.



Lucy Hazeur, of Pass Christian, left, and Rose Juzang, of Gulfport, attend Go Red for Women in Biloxi.



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