Thursday, October 13, 2005

Nothing like Mrs. Ventura

From the Star Tribune:

Editorial: Minnesota's first lady shows a lot of heart

Mary Pawlenty has had to tread judiciously as Minnesota's first lady. She's done it well.

Being a district judge, obliged to project partisan neutrality, kept Pawlenty out of sight during much of the 2002 campaign that landed her husband Tim in the governor's office. But being a creative, civic-minded citizen, she was rightfully unwilling to reject public life when the title "first lady" and the opportunity it affords for good works were hers.

Early in the gubernatorial term, she found just the ticket -- nonpartisan, yet high impact -- in supporting the families of Minnesota National Guard troops deployed in Iraq and elsewhere overseas. Her Military Family Care initiative has mobilized volunteers to assist National Guard families with myriad needs, from household repairs to emergency babysitting.

Last week, she added another worthy project to her list: a Heart Health Initiative, aimed at women. It's a project initiated by the nation's first lady, Laura Bush, in 2004, and one Pawlenty has embraced as her own.

The issue needs the attention that their political star power can attract. American women are as vulnerable to heart disease and heart attack as American men, but research has found that they are less likely to be informed about their risk. As a result, they are less likely to accurately assess the early warning signs of trouble, and more likely to postpone treatment -- too often to a dangerous extent.

Women's heart attack symptoms often don't match men's, adding to the propensity for a delayed response. Crushing chest pain is the most common symptom both genders experience. But for women, other signs are also fairly common, including shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

With heart disease and related strokes killing more Minnesota women each year than any other disorder, greater public awareness of the disease's gender-specific variations is much in order. As Pawlenty said when she kicked off her project last week at a symposium in Rochester, "The more women know, the more they're empowered, the more knowledge they have, the more they can do to control their own risk factors of heart attack and stroke."

She invited women who have survived heart attacks to join her in educating others about the risk, and how to minimize it. It's an invitation we hope many will take to heart.
(Source: Star Tribune, Oct. 13, 2005)

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