InSITE--Heart Health Help for Women

If you want to take better care of yourself, you know professional medical advice can cost you. But thanks to one local hospital, women in the Coastal Empire can get free heart disease prevention help online. While you can buy a self-help book on heart disease, St. Joseph's/Candler is recognizing this serious women's health risk by offering clinically developed, do-it-yourself prevention programs on the web. And it's all free.

"Now the best way to a woman's heart is through our website," said Dr. Neil Gordon. He's the medical director of the Center for Heart Disease Prevention at St. Joseph's/Candler. He's also one of the medical minds behind Intervent, a web-based self-help program for heart health.

"Really, the key to preventing heart disease or to stop it from worsening is for people to know what risk factors they have for heart disease," Dr. Gordon said. "They also need to know what the goal level is for each risk factor."

The program helps people do just that by assessing risk areas based on a short survey and recommending lifestyle changes to lower specific risks. Goals are established for areas such as diet, exercise, and smoking cessation, and progress is tracked online.

"It's important to keep in mind that the programs that we're offering can do a whole lot more than any book can do," said Dr. Gordon, "because as the result of participating in these programs, each participant receives an individualized report."

Now, St. Joseph's/Candler is offering these premium do-it-yourself programs for free to area women. "The reason St. Joseph's/Candler Health System has decided to this is quite simple," said Dr. Gordon. "Cardiovascular disease is a major threat to women throughout the United States and in our community. This year, cardiovascular disease will kill more women than all types of cancer combined plus the next six leading causes of death."

So the hospital wants to help local women help themselves. While the do-it-yourself risk-lowering programs are free, they also offer face-to-face or telephone counseling for a fee.

Dr. Gordon has recently conducted some research that he told us shows the kind of lifestyle changes these programs recommend have been effective in lower patients' risk levels without the use of drugs, so that could be healthy for your wallet as well as your heart.