What happens when you bring together women who have heart disease and arm them with information and skills to talk to others about their disease? And wait, how about if you add time for them to talk with physicians one-on-one and opportunities to bond with each other?
You end up with a group of incredibly empowered and passionate women from across the country that is ready and eager to take on heart disease, to go back into communities to teach and support other women.
That’s what happened over the past few days at WomenHeart’s 2011 Science & Leadership Symposium at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is the only patient-centered organization supporting the 42 million American women living with or at risk for heart disease.
This year’s symposium – the 10-year anniversary – brought together 46 women who became WomenHeart Champions; they join 522 former symposium graduates. Over the years, at each symposium, many of the women say the same thing: After they had their heart attack or surgery, there was no support specifically for them. They felt alone.
The goal of the symposium – and of WomenHeart and Mayo Clinic – is to change that. This year’s symposium took on a different goal: Bring women together who were specifically ready to begin support groups back in their communities and give them the tools to do it.
With 10 years under its belt, it is a particular year of celebration. Hear what Dr. Sharonne Hayes, Mayo Clinic cardiologist and the symposium medical director, says to WomenHeart Champions across the country and what she has learned from them:
Hear what Lisa M. Tate, Chief Executive Officer, WomenHeart, says the WomenHeart Champions have accomplished and why this year’s focus is so important: