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
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
Chicago, April 19th 2006
Risk Factors for Cardiovascular
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
. 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
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
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.
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.
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:
. Sex Hormones
. Birth Control Pills
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 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.