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Orawiec Cardiac Fund of the Polish-American Medical Society

Cardiovascular disease can take many forms including: high blood pressure, coronary artery disease or stroke. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) heart disease and stroke is the world's largest killer, claiming 17.5 millions lives a year. In the United States, more than 79 million people have some form of cardiovascular disease. About 2,400 people die every day of cardiovascular disease. More people die from heart disease than from all types of cancers, respiratory illnesses, accidents, and diabetes combined. We can change these bad statistics by controlling certain factors that play an important role in a person's chances of developing cardiac disease - these are called risk factors, major of them being: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

To help people better understand their personal risk for cardiovascular disease, to raise awareness about risk factors, to promote healthy life style, and to help those with no insurance and no resources for testing, Orawiec Cardiac Fund of the Polish American Medical Society was established. Founder of the Cardiac Fund, Dr. Bronislaw Orawiec, started free screening for total cholesterol, lipid fractions (HDL - High Density Lipoproteins, LDL - Low Density Lipoproteins, Triglycerides), blood pressure, glucose, body mass index and overall health risks in 1996. Since then, Dr. Orawiec has been conducting free, 2 to 4 day-long screenings for Polish community every year. Hundreds of people have benefited from these screenings, many of them having their tests done for the first time in their lives.

It is worth mentioning that while treatment and control of the major cardiac disease risk factors are not efficient in the American population in general, the statistical data amassed by Dr. Orawiec during screenings clearly indicates that the Polish community is even less aware of the risk factors and ways of preventing heart diseases.

The goal of the Cardiac Fund is to support fighting cardiac diseases in the Polish-American community in Chicago - problem that affects many of us and our loved ones. With the help of donations, we hope to do even more - reaching more people and providing them with more services.

It is never too late or too early to begin improving heart health. Some risk factors can be controlled, while other cannot. But, by eliminating risk factors that one can change and by properly managing those that one cannot control, it's possible to greatly reduce risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

For more information, please contact:

Bronislaw Orawiec, MD, PhD, FACC, FCCP, FABI
5428 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60630
Tel. 773.594.1515
Fax: 773.594.1674
E-mail: drorawiec@aol.com


Our Goal:
The main goal of the Fund is to support fighting cardiac diseases in the Polish-American community in Chicago. The founder of the Orawiec Cardiac Fund of the Polish-American Medical Society is Dr Bronislaw Orawiec, who has been conducting screen tests for cardiac diseases for the Chicagoan Polonia since 1996.

Ways of acquiring funds:
We are accepting donations from individuals, pharmaceutical companies, medical and social organizations, businesses - both American and Polish-American owned, and others. The right to acquire funds belongs to all the members of the Board of the Polish-American Medical Society as well as all the members of PAMS. The founding contributions to the Fund was $16,500 - $2,000 donated by Dr Bronislaw Orawiec, $2,500 contributed by Abbott Cardiovascular and $12,000 by AstraZeneca through Dr Orawiec

Intent of the Fund:
Contributions to the fund are to be used for conducting screen tests for cardiac diseases in the Polish-American community in Chicago. The minimum balance of the Fund is set for $5,000. Annual spending depends on the number and type of conducted projects. The Board of the PAMS approves projects and expenses financed by the Fund through voting.

Chicago, April 19th 2006

Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease:

There are many risk factors associated with coronary artery disease and stroke, which are divided into two categories: major and contributing. Major risk factors are those that have been proven to increase your risk of heart disease. Contributing risk factors are those that can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, but their exact role has not been defined.
You will not necessarily develop cardiovascular disease if you have risk factors. But the more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to develop heart disease, unless you take action to modify your risk factors and work to prevent these devastating consequences. The higher your level of each risk factor, the greater your risk of developing coronary heart disease. Some of them can be modified, treated or controlled (High Blood Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes Mellitus, Obesity and Overweight, Smoking or Tobacco Use, Physical Inactivity and Unhealthy Diet) and some cannot (Age, Gender, and Family History of Heart Disease). But by controlling as many risk factors as possible through lifestyle changes, certain medicines, or both, you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.

Major risk factors:
. High Blood Cholesterol
. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
. Diabetes Mellitus (High Glucose)
. Obesity and Overweight
. Smoking or Tobacco Use
. Physical Inactivity
. Unhealthy Diet
. Age
. Gender
. Family History of Heart Disease

High Blood Cholesterol
One of the major risk factors for heart disease is high blood cholesterol. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance produced by the liver or consumed in certain foods. It is needed by the body, and the liver makes enough for the body's needs. When there is too much cholesterol in the body (because of diet and the rate at which the cholesterol is processed), it is deposited in arteries, including those of the heart. This can lead to narrowing of the arteries, heart disease, and other complications.
Some cholesterol is often termed "good cholesterol" (HDL, high density lipoprotein), and some often termed "bad cholesterol" (LDL, low density lipoprotein). A higher level of HDL gives some protection against heart disease. Higher level of LDL can lead to heart disease. A lipoprotein profile can be done to measure several different forms of cholesterol, as well as triglycerides (another kind of fat) in the blood.
A diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat will help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk for atherosclerosis. Regular exercise will also help lower "bad" cholesterol and raise "good" cholesterol. Medications are often needed to reach cholesterol goals.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure is an another major risk factor for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. It is a condition where the pressure of the blood in the arteries is too high. There are often no symptoms to signal high blood pressure. Lowering blood pressure by changes in lifestyle and/or by medications can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. Blood pressure can vary with activity and age, but a healthy adult who is resting should have a systolic blood pressure below 120 and a diastolic pressure below 80 mmHg.

Diabetes Mellitus (High Glucose)
Diabetes also increases a person's risk for heart disease. With diabetes, the body either doesn't make enough insulin, can't use its own insulin as well as it should, or both. This causes sugars to build up in the blood. About three-quarters of people with diabetes die of some form of cardiovascular disease. If you know that you have diabetes, you should be under a doctor's care, because good control of blood sugar levels can reduce your risk. If you are not sure if you may have diabetes, see your doctor for special tests.

Obesity and Overweight
Obesity is excess body fat. It is linked to increased total cholesterol, LDL ("bad" cholesterol) and triglycerides levels and to lower HDL ("good" cholesterol), high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Recently, many doctors measure obesity in terms of body mass index (BMI), which is a formula of kilograms divided by height in meters squared. Being overweight is defined as having a BMI over 25. Those with number over 30 are considered obese.

Smoking or Tobacco Use
Most people know that cigarette smoking and tobacco use increases your risk of lung cancer, but few realize that it also increases the risk of heart disease and peripheral vascular disease. Smoking also raises blood pressure, which increases the risk of stroke. Although nicotine is the main active agent, other chemicals and compounds like tar and carbon monoxide are also harmful to your heart in many ways. These chemicals lead to buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries, possibly by injuring the vessel walls. Smoking also increases the levels of blood clotting factors, such as fibrinogen. This increases the risk of a blood clot that can lead to a heart attack.

Physical Inactivity
People who are not active have a greater risk of heart attack than do people who exercise regularly. Exercise burns calories, helps to control cholesterol levels, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Those who actively burn 500 to 3500 calories per week, can expect to live longer than people who do not exercise. Even moderate intensity exercise is helpful if done regularly.

Unhealthy Diet
Several aspects of peoples' dietary patterns have been linked to heart disease. These include diets high in saturated fats and cholesterol, which raise cholesterol levels and promote atherosclerosis. High salt or sodium in the diet causes raised blood pressure levels.

Age and Gender
Older age is a risk factor for heart disease. As we age, our hearts tend not to work as well. The heart's walls may thicken and arteries may stiffen and harden, making the heart less able to pump blood to the muscles of the body. Because of their sex hormones, women are usually protected from heart disease until menopause, and then their risk increases. After the age of 65, the risk of cardiovascular disease is about the same between sexes when other risk factors are similar.

Family History of Heart Disease
Heart disease tends to run in families. Genetic factors play some role in high blood pressure, heart disease, and other vascular conditions. Risk factors, including: high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity may also be passed from one generation to another. However, it is also likely that people with a family history of heart disease share common environments and risk factors that increase their risk.

Contributing risk factors:
. Stress
. Sex Hormones
. Birth Control Pills
. Alcohol

Stress is considered a contributing risk factor for heart disease because its effects on the heart are not completely understood. However, some scientists have noted a relationship between coronary artery disease risk and stress in a person's life, their health behaviors and socioeconomic status. For example, people under stress may overeat, start smoking or smoke more than they otherwise would.

Sex Hormones
Sex hormones appear to play a role in heart disease. Among women younger than 40, heart disease is rare. But between the ages 40 and 65, around the time when most women go through menopause, the chances that a women will have a heart attack greatly increase. Women 65 and older have the same risk of heart disease as men of the same age.

Birth Control Pills
Early types of birth control pills contained high levels of estrogen and progestin. Taking these pills increased the risk of heart disease and strokes, especially in women older than 35 who smoked. But birth control pills today contain much lower doses of hormones and are considered safe for women younger than 35 who do not have high blood pressure and do not smoke.
But if you smoke or have other risk factors, birth control pills will increase your risk of heart disease and blood clots, especially if you are older than 35. According to the American Heart Association, women who take birth control pills should have yearly check-ups that test blood pressure, triglycerides and blood glucose levels.

The risk of heart disease in people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol is lower than in nondrinkers. Experts say that moderate intake is an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. One drink is defined as 1-1/2 fluid ounces (fl oz) of 80-proof spirits (such as bourbon, scotch, vodka, gin, etc.), 1 fl oz of 100-proof spirits, 4 fl oz of wine or 12 fl oz of beer.

But drinking more than a moderate amount of alcohol can cause heart related problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, irregular heart beats, and cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle). It is not recommended that nondrinkers start using alcohol or that drinkers increase the amount that they drink.


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