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Piedmont Marks 10-Year Anniversary of Women’s Heart Program

Atlanta (Feb. 8, 2023) – Piedmont Heart Institute’s Women’s Heart Program, which was created to address the unique cardiovascular needs of women – needs that all too frequently go unnoticed and under-assessed – is celebrating its 10-year anniversary during February, which is American Heart Month. Piedmont’s Women’s Heart program has grown to care for more than 12,000 patients across Georgia.

The screening portion of the Women’s Heart Program has grown to eight locations beyond its original site in Atlanta to Athens, Fayette, Newnan, Jasper, Perimeter, Sharpsburg, and Watkinsville-Oconee Health Park. Additionally, the program hopes to expand to two new locations by the end of 2023, making it “10 for 10.”

Jyoti Sharma, M.D., medical director of the program, cited a recent study in explaining why a heart program dedicated to women is not only important but necessary: only 22 percent of primary care practitioners and 42 percent of cardiologists reported that they feel well-prepared to assess women’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, according to the American Heart Association, and remains the No. 1 cause of death among women in the United States and Georgia. Just as women of a certain age have learned to get an annual mammogram to detect breast cancer, Dr. Sharma wants to create similar awareness among women to receive heart screenings.

“Piedmont is a leader in transforming healthcare and we are proud of the groundbreaking work our Women’s Heart Program has done over the past decade,” Dr. Sharma said. “We are empowering women to take charge of their heart health so that they will live longer, healthier, fuller lives.”

One of the focal points of the program is to perform heart screenings for women to identify potential cardiovascular disease. Dr. Sharma said women have unique risk factors that impact their hearth health such as those that might develop during pregnancy, rheumatologic diseases, along with mental health factors such as anxiety and depression.

To amplify the program’s work, its creators recognized that they needed a more holistic model, one that would look after women’s heart health outside of the relatively brief amount of time that a patient spends with her cardiologist.

As a result the Dottie Fuqua Women’s Support Heart Network was created. It has enjoyed great success in creating programs to provide that holistic support. Since, 2017, the program has enjoyed tremendous growth – from 180 participants to more than 12,000 participants. An average of 400 women attend events each month.

The women’s support network has three pillars:

  • Nourish: Focusing on nutrition and creating habits for women to eat a heart healthy diet.
  • Flourish: Engaging in tactics to foster mental wellbeing and stress reduction.
  • Thrive: Focusing on intentional movement and engendering habits to remain physically active.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the support network pivoted to a digital platform. As a result, women from across the globe have participated in its classes. Presently, the support network offers both in-person and virtual classes, which include Virtual Yoga, Pilates, and 21-Day Food Challenges, among many others.

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