A Valentine’s Day themed presentation on women’s heart health was hosted in Sykes Ballroom from 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14. Offering an array of heart-healthy, Valentine’s Day themed snacks, members of the Alphi Phi sorority joined Angelique Geronimo from the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement to host a panel on key aspects of what makes a healthy heart for women in their everyday lives. The panel encouraged attendees to consider their own lifestyle choices, and consider what they can do to live healthier lives.

The panel, presented via PowerPoint, touched on the issue that heart disease remains the number one cause of death in women, killing nearly one in three women every year. Women run a greater risk of heart disease once they reach the age of 55 as compared to men who reach a higher risk by the age of 45. Other risk factors for men and women include family history of heart disease and high blood-pressure. Preventative measures recommended in the presentation included a healthy diet, regular exercise, not smoking and stress management. The panel touched on how often times, women have “silent heart attacks” unlike the more painful ones that men experience.

The Alphi Phi sorority, which hosted the event, focuses on women’s heart health, donating $100,000 annually to heart health experts for women. Julia Heyward, an accounting major at West Chester and one of the hosts of the event, described Alpha Phi as the only sorority that “focuses its philanthropy on heart health.” Alphi Phi hosts events for “heart month,” which takes place during February, with events like “Hoops for Heart” which is a basketball tournament focused on raising money for heart-health charities.

West Chester University professor Michelle Kaulback is an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing), Registered Nurse and FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner). She believes in sharing the important message of heart health saying, “You have to share your message, but you have to remember to help yourself” concerning a heart-healthy lifestyle, and that “laying the foundation is super important.”

Kaulback encourages people to start these practices young so that they may have better heart health in the future. Outlining what she referred to as “Pieces of Your Heart,” she detailed steps to a healthier lifestyle. These included knowing your family’s history, knowing the risk factors of heart disease and understanding the symptoms of heart disease, especially for women. She stressed that getting enough sleep and turning off one’s phone at night could make a big difference in the heart health of young college students.

Professor Kaulback’s father passed away from a heart attack when he was 50; she has been an advocate for heart health ever since.

The program ended with the West Chester University Student Nursing Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP) hosting a Jeopardy game. The categories included having the program participants do exercise activities alone, with a partner, standing up and sitting down. Such activities included dancing, star jumps and squats.

For more information on Alpha Phi, students are encouraged to visit their website at alphaphifoundation.org. For more information on SNAP, they can be found at snap-online.org. Dr. Kaulback can be reached at mkaulback@wcupa.edu.

Samantha Walsh is a second-year student majoring in special education and English with a minor in autism studies. ✉ SW850037@wcupa.edu.

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