Cardiologist speaks at Go Red For Women Luncheon

A rosy hue radiated during the second annual Go Red for Women luncheon at the Sweetwater TSTC (Texas State Technical College) campus on Friday, Feb. 3, 2012.Nolan County American Heart Association (AHA) board member Jerrie Gee welcomed the guests to the venue and thanked the business sponsors, Shannon Regional Medical Center in San Angelo, Sweetwater Floral, members of the local AHA board and the regional director of the AHA for their assistance toward the success of the luncheon.Also noted were some upcoming events benefitting the AHA, including the Heart Walk scheduled for this October and the 24-Hour Treadmill Walk-a-Thon, sponsored by Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital (RPMH), which will begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17. Call RPMH at 235-1701 ext. 221 for more information. Julie McLemore, another board member of the Nolan County AHA, introduced the keynote speaker for this year's luncheon. Dr. Samia Benslimane, M.D. is a cardiologist with Shannon Health System in San Angelo and partners with the Rolling Plains Rural Health Clinic in Sweetwater to provide patients with a number of cardiac and vascular studies and procedures.Dr. Benslimane earned her medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and is board certified in Internal Medicine, Echocardiography and Nuclear Medicine. Her particular interest of women battling heart disease led to her participation in this year's luncheon.With a Powerpoint presentation, Dr. Benslimane offered informative tips and awareness regarding heart disease to educate guests in order to share with community members and loved ones.Heart disease encompasses a number of ailments such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and coronary heart disease. Also included is valvular disease, which well-known personalities like Barbara Walters have recently dealt with through surgery.A number of factors can lead to heart disease. While it can strike at any time, heart disease can start in young women and gradually develop over time.Some statistics were presented to the audience by Dr. Benslimane, in that heart disease is the number one killer of women in America. One in three women will be affected by heart disease; 1 in 3 women will die from heart disease. 50% of women who died from a sudden heart attack will have no visible signs.She also presented some signs presented from a classic angina. Chest pain, pressure and heaviness will set in as well as some atypical symptoms--such as shortness of breath; pain in the jaw, neck, and arm; nausea and fatigue.Risk factors for heart disease--age, family history and race (African-Americans are at higher risk)--were also noted. However, some risk factors are controllable.Dr. Benslimane noted that women can take steps in regulating their blood pressure and cholesterol, specifically LDL cholesterol, through diet and exercise. Additionally, becoming physically active, controlling diabetes and quitting cigarette use contributes to heart health.Smoking actually counters the work of cholesterol medicine in the body. Should a woman stop smoking, positive benefits can be seen in one to two years and risks can reduce up to 47%. However, screening for heart disease is a vital step women can take in seeking out silent killers. Poor numbers in weight and body mass index can also lead to hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes.Nevertheless, women can take action by modifying their lifestyles. Regular exercise--anything that gets the heart rate up and produces sweat--and good nutritional investments like heart healthy cooking can prove beneficial. Dr. Benslimane stated that maintaining a healthy weight is 80% nutrition.Little steps toward great nutrition can add up over time, thus making it easier to sustain in the long term. The minimal changes are less likely to make a woman feel restricted or want to binge.For instance, eating only when you are hungry will assist. Overeating at the previous meal or a slow metabolism can affect hunger. Also, by downsizing plates, smaller portions will offer the illusion of having an overloaded plate. But, second helpings are not permitted; colorful plates through unlimited vegetables are allowed.As the health-conscious leaders of the family, Dr. Benslimane encouraged women to screen for heart disease, manage risk factors and modify lifestyles. The luncheon concluded with a variety of door prizes given from a number of local outlets including the TSTC Center, Texas National Bank, First Financial Bank and Trust, Maloney's, the Medicine Place, Vickie's Gifts, Dandy's Western Wear, RPMH Physical Therapy, Annie Hicks and Latria's.