Tag Archives: women

Go Red Day: For Women and Heart Health!

The word is finally getting out about the devastating statistics of heart disease in women. As the No. 1 killer of women nationally, heart disease claims the lives of nearly 500,000 women annually in the United States. In 2003, the American Heart Association introduced a new initiative known as “National Wear Red Day” to inform women of the dangers of ignoring their heart health and to teach them how to improve their heart and overall health. “Go Red Day” is held on the first Friday in February and encourages women and men to dress in red clothing to show their support for heart disease awareness.

In the 15 years since the inaugural “National Wear Red Day,” there have been significant accomplishments achieved to reduce the number of women dying from heart disease, including:

  • Nearly 90% of women have made at least one healthy behavior change.
  • More than one-third of women have lost weight.
  • More than 50% of women have increased their exercise.
  • 6 out of 10 women have changed their diets.
  • More than 40% of women have checked their cholesterol levels.
  • One-third of women has talked with their doctors about developing heart health plans.
  • Today, nearly 300 fewer women die from heart disease and stroke each day.
  • Death in women from heart disease has decreased by more than 30 percent over the past 10 years.

Click here to read more about “Go Red Day” and how you can protect yourself from heart disease.

Best Chance Network: Much-Needed Access to Breast, Cervical Cancer Screening

Trenessa K. Jones, DSL
Best Chance Network Director
Division of Cancer Prevention & Control

Although Breast Cancer Awareness Month is winding down, the need to continue proactive efforts to raise awareness about the disease and urge people to get screened remains.

To that end, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) Best Chance Network (BCN), along with its many partners, will continue to do what they have been doing for 26 years: educate the public on the importance of breast and cervical cancer screenings and help those who cannot afford to get screened.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), 3,820 South Carolina women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 690 will die from the disease this year.

BCN, which is administered by DHEC’s Cancer Prevention and Control Division, offers breast and cervical cancer screenings at no cost to women who have no health insurance or only have hospitalization insurance, who are between the ages of 30 and 64, and who meet certain income guidelines. The BCN program partners with more than 450 health care providers in the state to coordinate cancer screenings for these under-served women. The program also offers diagnosis and treatment, data tracking, public education and more.

Since its inception, BCN has provided more than 220,000 breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings for eligible women, assisting nearly 11,000 this past year alone.

The most recent South Carolina Central Cancer Registry data (2009-2013) indicates that more than 70 percent of women in South Carolina are diagnosed at an early stage, when the cancer is most treatable. In 2013, the South Carolina breast cancer incidence rate was 125.9 per 100,000 women ranking SC 28th out of 50 states and Washington, DC. The mortality rate was 22.4 per 100,000 women. SC ranked 21st out of 50 states and Washington, DC.

Early diagnosis is paramount: The earlier breast cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat. That is BCN’s goal: to help women in South Carolina gain an edge in their battle against cancer — and win.

Visit the DHEC website for more information on BCN.

WIC peer counselors aid, encourage new mothers learning to breastfeed

By Beverly Brockington
WIC Nutrition Manager
DHEC Division of WIC Services

One of the most effective ways for new mothers to learn to breastfeed is through the guidance of someone who has done it and knows the ups and the downs involved in the process.

In the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, peer counselors fill that role. Peer counselors are WIC moms who breastfed their babies and who have been trained to help others. They know the challenges new mothers face and can use their experiences to answer questions, offer comfort and provide encouragement.

Peer counselors’ experience invaluable

The peer counselors are valuable members of the WIC breastfeeding education and support system, which also includes a wide range of clinical staff. This week is World Breastfeeding Week, a good time to highlight unsung champions of breastfeeding such as peer counselors.

When new moms can talk to someone who has endured similar experiences, it’s easier for them to ask difficult questions and share embarrassing moments they wouldn’t otherwise share.

Because WIC peer counselors are mothers from within the community, they are able to bond with new moms and provide much-needed support in an effort to help young mothers have a good experience with breastfeeding. Among other things, peer counselors:

  • Help new mothers make informed choices about how they will feed their babies.
  • Provide tips for helping mothers get off to a good start with breastfeeding.
  • Encourage mothers when they reach difficult points during breastfeeding.
  • Help mothers find the best way to fit breastfeeding into their schedules.

Help for mothers seeking to breastfeed

Many new mothers are hesitant or afraid to try breastfeeding for various reasons: Some common barriers include embarrassment, the challenge of returning to work or school, a lack of support, the fear of pain, a lack of confidence, and concern about not making enough milk.

But there are ways to address most concerns surrounding breastfeeding, and peer counseling is one of them. Effective peer counseling helps many mothers have good experiences.

When mothers have a good experience with breastfeeding, it increases the chance of them trying to do it longer, which is beneficial to them and their baby.

Hear why WIC counselors love what they do!

Travelers Should Follow Zika Precautions

South Carolinians traveling to areas of the world affected by the Zika virus should protect themselves and their families from Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Zika virus is currently circulating in several areas of the world, including countries and territories in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, the Pacific Islands and Cape Verde. It, along with other viruses, can be acquired from the bite of an infected mosquito.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women in particular should not travel to areas with active Zika transmission as the virus may cause serious birth defects. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other health care professional first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.

“We strongly advise that anyone – especially pregnant women – planning to travel be aware of the countries where Zika virus is circulating,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said. “In addition, travelers should consult with a health care provider and follow recommendations on avoiding mosquito bites to prevent all illnesses carried by mosquitoes.”

If you are traveling to a country where there is active Zika transmission, avoid mosquito bites by wearing EPA-approved repellent, wearing protective clothing and staying in facilities with air conditioning or with good window and door screens whenever possible.

Upon returning to the United States, continue to take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks, even if you don’t feel sick, to prevent possible spread of Zika to uninfected mosquitoes.

Sexual transmission of Zika virus from a male partner is possible, so men who have lived or traveled to areas with Zika and their partners should take special precautions to prevent spreading the virus. Pregnant women should avoid sexual contact with men who have recently been in an area with active Zika transmission or use a condom the right way every time. Women and men with possible exposure to Zika virus but no symptoms of Zika virus disease should wait at least eight weeks after exposure before trying to get pregnant.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 600 travel-related cases of Zika virus in the United States, including one confirmed case in South Carolina as of June 10, 2016. In all of these cases the virus was acquired while traveling to a country where Zika is spreading or sexually transmitted by someone who had acquired the virus while traveling. The virus is not currently known to be carried by mosquitoes in the United States.

Helpful information on travel and pregnancy can be found by viewing the following:

For more information on CDC travel advisories, visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/.

For additional information on Zika, visit www.scdhec.gov/Zika.

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Love Your Mother’s Heart

On this special day set aside to celebrate our mothers and shower them with love, let’s also take time to focus on their hearts.

Did you know that more than 22,000 S.C. women were hospitalized for heart disease in 2014? According to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for African-American women and the second leading cause of death for white women in our state. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death for all women in the Palmetto State.

May is also Stroke Awareness Month and this is Women’s Health Week, both perfect opportunities to remind our mothers, grandmothers, daughters and those other important ladies in our lives of the benefits of healthy habits to prevent these potentially deadly diseases.

 

Quit smoking

Every day, nearly eight women die from smoking in South Carolina, according to DHEC’s Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Morbidity, and Economic Cost analysis.  Women who smoke are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack as women who don’t smoke.  In fact, an average of two women die every day in our state from heart disease linked to smoking.

quit tobacco momDHEC manages the S.C. Tobacco Quitline, a free behavioral counseling service for all South Carolinians who want to quit for keeps.  Individuals can take advantage of one-on-one support from a trained Quit Coach via phone or web, a personalized treatment plan, a Quit Kit, and features such as text message support and helpful mobile apps.  Tailored programs are available for pregnant callers.

The Quitline can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). For Spanish, call 1-855-DEJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569).

Do you want to help a loved one quit smoking but are not sure how to start the conversation? Check out these tips for helping others quit smoking.

Get moving

Regular physical activity could reduce the risk of high blood pressure—a contributing factor to heart disease and stroke—by nearly 20 percent. In South Carolina, 53 percent of women do not get the recommended amount of physical activity—30 minutes a day for five days a week or more than 150 minutes a week. A simple daily brisk walk can help you get to a healthy weight, improve your mood and prevent high blood pressure.

Find more physical activity tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.

Eat healthy

Remember mom’s mealtime lectures about eating all your vegetables? Her advice is right, health experts agree.

Fruits and vegetables provide important vitamins, minerals and fiber that can reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Check out our serving sizes and shopping tips page for recipe ideas and tips on healthy eating.

Know the signs

The most common sign of a heart attack in both women and men is chest pain, but women often experience other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, nausea and back and jaw pain. Read more about heart attack symptoms in women at the American Heart Association page.

Stroke symptoms include sudden:

  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg;
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding;
  • Trouble seeing or experiencing blurred vision;
  • Trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination, dizziness; or
  • Severe headache with no known cause.

If you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms, don’t wait—call 9-1-1. Read more about how to spot a stroke and what quick steps to take here.

Mother’s Day is truly a time to celebrate family so take this opportunity to take care of yourself if you are a mother or share some healthy encouragement with the women in your life.