Columbia St. Mary's Announces New Women's Heart Program - Heart Secrets

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

• Program offers new collaborative approach
• Risk assessments and screenings performed within Shared Medical Appointment
• Medical staff, patients meet as a team

Milwaukee, WI, March 24, 2009 – Columbia St. Mary’s is changing the way women think about heart health with its new women’s heart program entitled, Heart Secrets. Heart Secrets is a revolutionary program designed to prevent heart disease, changing many of the long-held paradigms surrounding diet, exercise, and heart health.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. In fact, it takes more lives than the next sixteen causes of death combined. Under the medical direction of Dr. Patricia Dolhun, women who enter the Heart Secrets program can expect a different approach than they have experienced before. Heart Secrets provides state-of-the-art risk assessments and screenings in the innovative environment of a shared medical appointment (SMA). 

A SMA is an interactive and collaborative way for women to share information and experiences while meeting with the Heart Secrets medical team in a comfortable group setting. In addition to SMAs, the Heart Secrets program offers health, exercise, nutrition and other classes, follow-up support, and an interactive website:

“We decided on the name ‘Heart Secrets’ because we discovered that there are many things women don’t know about their own heart health – heart secrets that need to be shared,” said Dr. Dolhun.  “For instance, women of all ages need to be concerned about heart disease.  And, some risk factors are specific to women such as early menopause.  Depression and waist size also affect women differently than men.”

Dr. Dolhun added that conditions that cause insulin resistance are also a risk factor for women, another fact that is not well known.   One of these is polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition in which a woman’s ovaries produce numerous cysts, hindering her ability to get pregnant and affecting the hormones, including those that regulate insulin.

Diet and exercise also play an important role in heart health. Women have been told by countless sources that they need to “eat right and exercise,” yet few women do these things consistently. New research shows that the answer lies in women’s motivation. Losing weight and looking good are, surprisingly, not big motivators for women to maintain long-term exercise and eating habits. Instead, the good feeling from improved health has been shown to be a much bigger motivator. One of the goals of Heart Secrets is to educate women about this fact and, in turn, give them sustainable motivation to eat better and be more active.

“We want women to know that they shouldn’t be discouraged if they don’t look like a model or aren’t able to run a marathon,” said Dr. Dolhun.  “Sustainable, long-term health habits are what positively impact women’s health.”

For more information call (414) 961-3600 or visit



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