Battling Heart Disease
"There's an alarming lack of awareness among women about heart disease,"
asserts Christina Bastone, manager of special projects for Tampa's St. Joseph's
Hospital. "The perception is that it's a man's disease."
Diane Egner, WUSF content director agrees. "Women often think the number one killer is breast cancer." This mistaken belief helped WUSF create the idea for a project to inform hard-to-reach groups about women and heart disease, especially the uninsured, those who don't speak English and women lacking resources to obtain the information.
WUSF Public Broadcasting approached St. Joseph's Hospital as well as Pepin Heart Hospital, Tampa General Hospital and Pinellas County Community Foundation with a plan to join forces with the station to educate women about heart health.
Together, they offered free heart screenings throughout the year as well as Q&A sessions with health professionals. During American Heart Month in February, WUSF aired special PBS programs, such as Heartbeat to Heartbeat: Women and Heart Disease and The Art of Women's Health. Local shows and public service announcements were produced with the help of community partners.
WUSF continues to work with community clinics, advocacy groups and churches to distribute informational DVDs produced in English, Spanish and Haitian-Creole, says Egner.
"We know the message is getting to people. To increase awareness [about heart disease and women] is going to take a concerted effort of community groups" adds Bastone. "This project is a great way to do that."