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'An Affair of the Heart' luncheon set for Wednesday

ALBANY -- Heart disease is still often thought of as a man's problem, but women are impacted by it as well.

To help raise awareness about the toll heart disease takes on women, the Dougherty County Health Department, the Albany Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and Albany Technical College are hosting "An Affair of the Heart" from noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Kirkland Building on the campus of Albany Tech.

"February is American Heart Month, and we have too many people here that have heart disease," said Vamella Lovett, manager of the Dougherty County Health Department. "Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.

"We've held a (similar event) in the past on the first Friday in February. This year we did not do that, but we are doing this. It is the same message, just on a different day."

The keynote speaker will be Southwest Public Health District Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant. She will present an overview of the disease, which is considered to be the leading cause of death for women in most racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. including the black, Caucasian and Latino populations.

The discussion will cover exercise, diet, blood pressure and how to adopt lifestyle changes. There is a nutritionist expected to be there as well, Lovett said.

"It's to emphasize how important it is for women to take care of themselves," Lovett said. "Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and women here have heart attacks and strokes. We want to make sure they have the steps to protect themselves.

"As mothers and caregivers, they don't take care of themselves. They take care of others. We want to make sure they are taking care of themselves too."

Despite the statistics that suggest otherwise, health officials still find that women tend to see heart disease as a man's problem.

"That's one reason why we are doing this," Lovett said. "Women think they don't fit into that mold, but they actually have heart attacks in large numbers."

According to the American Heart Association's website, www.heart.org, heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined.

Reservations are required to ensure adequate seating and food. Potential attendees are encouraged to RSVP by calling the health department at (229) 430-6200 by 5 p.m. Monday.

The deadline to register was initially Friday, but was later extended due to the Presidents Day holiday. Letters first went out regarding the event last week.

Based on interest generated by previous heart health events, Lovett said officials are preparing for 300 attendees. It is free and open to the public, men included.

"It's open to anybody," she said. "It's mostly women that come, but both men and women are invited."

Albany Tech is located at 1704 S. Slappey Blvd. For more information, contact the Dougherty County Health Department.