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Lee Memorial Health System

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Lee Memorial Health System: Mending Broken Hearts

Cupid takes aim for lovers in February; American Heart Month strikes blow to reduce deaths from heart disease.

Fort Myers, FL, February 03, 2010 --( The numbers are telling: every minute someone dies from coronary heart disease making heart disease the leading cause of death in the United States. More than 630,000 people die from heart disease each year – representing more than one in every four deaths in the U.S. Just as many women, as men, die from heart disease each year; and nearly one million Americans will suffer a heart attack this year.

Often referred to as a “silent killer” because symptoms generally do not appear before it’s too late, heart disease does not have to be a death sentence. Education, awareness, lifestyle choices and knowing what to do if you suspect someone is having a heart attack can make a significant difference in preventing heart disease or surviving a cardiac event.

As a month already dedicated to matters of the heart, February is the ideal time to focus attention on and build awareness about heart disease. Endorsed by Congress and the President of the United States, each year February is proclaimed American Heart Month, dedicated to eliminating heart disease as the leading cause of death in America.

According to Sandy Childress, System Director for Cardiac Rehabilitation with Lee Memorial Health System, most people know what they need to do to help reduce their risk of heart disease, but getting people to actually do it is the challenge.

“The most important step individuals can take to help reduce the risk of heart disease is to quit smoking,” says Childress. “Everyone knows this, but getting people to quit, or to not start smoking in the first place, is difficult.”

In addition to smoking, Childress says the top five risk factors for heart disease are:

• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Diabetes
• Lack of exercise
• Diet

“Ironically, all of these risk factors can be managed,” says Childress. “When it comes to heart disease we know how to reduce the risks, but getting people to change their behavior in our society is nearly impossible until they experience a cardiac event themselves.”

In addition to building awareness about the risk factors for heart disease, American Heart Month provides the opportunity to stress the message that in the event of a heart attack, seconds count and calling 911 for help is the single most critical factor. One-half of all deaths due to heart attacks occur within 1 hour of the onset of symptoms and before the person reaches medical help. Receiving early treatment has been proven to prevent, or at least limit, damage to the heart.

Throughout February, Lee Memorial Health System will be supporting American Heart Month through various community programs, events and classes, including:

28 Days, 28 Ways to a Heart Healthier You! Daily tips on how to help reduce the risk of heart disease on Lee Memorial Health Systems’ Twitter account:

GoRed for Women! Friday, Feb. 5, 2010. GoRed for Women is a national campaign to increase awareness about the risk for women and heart disease. Heart disease is the No.1 killer of women in the United States.

Simple Tips to Prevent Heart Disease in Adults. Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010, 5 - 6:30 p.m. Part of the Well Informed Lecture Series and presented by Dr. Jesus Mendiolaza. For more information and to register, call 239-433-8505 or visit

About Lee Memorial Health System
Open since 1916, Lee Memorial Health System is the fifth largest public health system in the United States and the largest community-owned health system in Southwest Florida. With more than 9,000 employees, Lee Memorial Health System is made up of four acute care hospitals and two specialty hospitals, as well as outpatient centers, walk-in medical centers and primary care physician offices. An award-winning health care system, Lee Memorial Health System provides regional programs, such as our Trauma Center and Children’s Hospital, which serve our community members from Tampa to Miami. Visit for more information.


Know the common warning signs of a heart attack

• Chest discomfort including a sense of pressure, squeezing, tightening or pain

• Pain or discomfort in the upper body including the jaw, neck, back, one or both arms and sometimes in the stomach

• Shortness of breath

• Nausea, breaking out in a cold sweat, fainting

If you experience these symptoms, seek immediate help by calling 911. Remember – time is muscle – the more quickly you recognize heart attack symptoms and seek treatment, the more likely you are to minimize damage to the heart muscle.

Source: Lee Memorial Health System
Contact Information
Lee Memorial Health System
Erika Houser
239 278 3900

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