12 women make heart-healthy lifestyle changes

betterU group

The Westchester-Fairfield American Heart Association and Stamford Hospital celebrated 11 local women who participated in the AHA’s BetterU challenge during a recent event at Stamford Hospital’s Tully Health Center. For the last 12 weeks, the women have embarked on lifestyle changes to improve their heart health.

The BetterU Makeover Challenge was sponsored by Stamford Hospital, and program’s goal was to remind all women of the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices to prevent heart disease and stroke, the number one and three killers of women, respectively.

During the program, each of the participants received a three-month membership to Stamford Hospital’s Health & Fitness Institute, baseline and 12-week medical readings, culinary and nutrition classes, heart health seminars and group workouts. They have been sharing their personal stories on a dedicated program blog and were recognized during the annual Go Red for Women luncheon on May 30 in Greenwich. They also received beauty makeovers from Kendra Porter, Image Consultant, Glo Beauty Bar and Denise Simon Studios.

Health metrics for the group were assessed at week one and again after 12 weeks. Highlights included a 42.2 pounds of total weight loss or 3.0 percent drop in body weight for the group overall, with one woman losing 20 pounds. There was a 3 percent drop in overall body mass index for the group and a 26.4 percent drop in triglycerides. Overall, the group lost 25.3 inches around the waist or 6.9 percent drop in waist circumference. One woman lost 6.25 inches from her waistline.

They were also measured on healthy lifestyle changes including fitness, fruit and vegetable intake and sodium reduction—all important to overall health and cardiovascular disease prevention.

Overall, they improved their heart disease risk score, measured with the American Heart Association’s My Life Check score, by 23 percent, just with healthy lifestyle changes. A study by the American Heart Association found that more than 80 percent of cardiac events in women are preventable through simple lifestyle choices involving diet, exercise and smoking cessation. One in three women will die from the disease and more than 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for it.

The BetterU participants were: Mary Ann Dunnell, Karen Knight, Michele Martinich, Gabriela Bravo-Diaz, Eden Huang and Julie Alswanger of Stamford; Susan Gerulis and Sandra Greer of Norwalk, Margie Place from Darien, Deborah Miller from Bridgeport and Veta Ferguson from the Bronx, N.Y.

Women can learn about their risk for heart disease and take steps to improve their heart health with free resources online at GoRedForWomen.org.

Amanda Cuda