The Heart Program for Women at BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre helps women at risk for developing heart disease and tries to prevent the need for a major medical intervention in the future.
“We set out to provide a program where women who want to make positive changes in their lives are supported in an open and non-judgmental environment in which they can truly feel comfortable and motivated to make changes,” says Natasha Prodan-Bhalla, a nurse practitioner, who runs the program.
Since its inception in early 2009, participants have lowered their blood pressure by statistically significant amounts, lost weight and made at least one positive change to their eating habits.
“We know that heart disease and stroke is the number one killer of women in Canada. We also know that approximately 80 per cent of heart disease is preventable through proper diet, weight loss and exercise. The key is to prevent weight gain in the first place as most of us know that it is a lot harder to lose weight than it is to prevent weight gain.”
Women can self-refer to the program, if they have at least two of the following conditions:
• Family history of heart disease
• High or low cholesterol
• Smoking history
Women who participate in the program receive risk factor screening; personalized goal setting and a treatment plan; one-hour consultation with a nurse practitioner; and ongoing follow-up and support as necessary.
The nurse practitioners take their cues from women – and can focus on improving one risk factor at a time or making a complete lifestyle change. The goal is to develop an attainable, personalized plan for each woman.
There is no cost for the clinics which run twice a week on Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre. For more information visit www.bcwomens.ca