Mahoning Valley women urged to attend wellness program

Mahoning Valley women, especially black and Hispanic women: Mark April 13 on your calendars with a big, red circle.

On that day, the Youngstown Chapter of Links Inc. in conjunction with Mercy Health will host the 14th annual “300 Sisters in Red” health screening and awareness program from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Kilcawley Center on the campus of Youngstown State University.

The theme is “Eat Well, Move More, Be Well – A Recipe for a Healthy Heart.”

This will be a great opportunity for women to get those health checkups you’ve been putting off. And it will only cost you a few hours of your time. The event is free.

Women are encouraged to wear red to support the campaign for women’s heart-health awareness.

The Links Inc. is an international, nonprofit corporation, established in 1946. The membership consists of more than 15,000 professional women of color in 288 chapters in 42 states. Providing programs to help youths and health and human services is in the organization’s DNA.

“Our goal is to get as many mostly minority women to register for routine blood work and screening test as we can,” said Dr. Ruth Quarles, a Links chapter member and chairwoman of the 300 Sisters in Red committee. “We would like to target those ZIP codes where the scarcest options for available health care are found.”

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. It’s responsible for killing approximately one woman every minute.

According to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women, these are the sobering statistics for black women:

Cardiovascular diseases kill nearly 50,000 African-American women annually.

Of African-American women age 20 and older, 49 percent have heart disease.

Only 52 percent of African-American women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

Only 36 percent of African-American women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk.

Also, according to the AHA, researchers have found there may be a gene that makes black Americans more sensitive to the effects of salt, which in turn increases the risk for developing high blood pressure.

“The African-American population also tends to have higher rates of obesity and diabetes, which puts them at greater risk for high blood pressure and heart disease,” according to the AHA.

According to Close the Gap Health Equity for Life, heart disease and stroke is the No. 1 killer of Latino Americans, and cardiovascular disease causes more deaths for Hispanic Americans than all forms of cancer combined.

The event next Saturday will include exercise to get you moving and a healthy lunch.

Medical screenings will be from 8 to 10 a.m. These include blood pressure, bone density, HIV and stroke-risk assessment. If you want to know about your cholesterol levels or A1c (test for diabetes), make sure you have fasted for 12 hours.

The Joanie Abdu 3D mobile mammography van will be onsite. If you would like a mammogram, pre-registration is required by calling 330-480-2654. The Links and Mercy Health ask that you bring your insurance card and a photo ID at the time of your appointment. You may also qualify to receive a mammogram without a bill. To see if you qualify, call 330-480-2763.

There will be massages, and you even get to park for free in the M60 deck on campus. You enter the deck from Fifth Avenue.

Panel experts are Dr. Vicki Doe and Jessica Romeo of Mercy Health.

Dr. Doe is founder-health fitness director and chief editor-publisher of Vicki Doe Fitness, 2 S. Main St., Niles.

She earned her doctorate degree in health sciences-exercise physiology from Kent State University and is a certified exercise physiologist by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Romeo will discuss Mercy Health’s Stepping Out program, which features free fitness classes, health screenings and healthy-eating classes.

Dr. Quarles said breakout sessions at 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. will include discussions issues that are of key importance in our community – organ donation, human trafficking and dealing with adverse childhood experiences.

The Links are encouraging everyone to invite an adult daughter or female friend 18 and older to the event.

For information, contact Mercy Health’s Community Health Education office at 330-480-3070.

Additional sponsors are Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, AHA, YSU, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Youngstown Alumnae Chapter, Junior Civic League of Youngstown, YWCA Mahoning Valley, Youngstown Warren Black Nurses Association and The Buckeye Review.

Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly minority-affairs column. Contact him at