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Iowa State University Extension

Care for Yourself/WISEWOMAN helps reduce risk of cardiovascular disease

Care for Yourself/WiseWoman

Iowa women are getting wiser about reducing their risk of cardiovascular disease. During the past six years more than 1,200 Iowa women over age 40 have participated in Iowa Care for Yourself/WISEWOMAN, a series of 12 small group sessions taught by ISU Extension nutrition and health field specialists. The community-based intervention program empowers low-income, primarily rural women to make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Although cardiovascular disease has been considered a ‘man’s disease,’ research shows that more women have fallen victim to it than men since 1984,” said Ruth Litchfield, the ISU Extension state nutrition specialist who leads the program. “Women underestimate their susceptibility to cardiovascular disease. Breast cancer is perceived as a greater threat, despite the fact that heart disease kills one in 2.6 women while breast cancer kills one in 30 women.”

Iowa Care for Yourself/WISEWOMAN was funded as a collaborative endeavor of the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), ISU Extension and the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

The program received the 2008 Priester Award at the National Extension Health Conference April 9 in Durham, NC. The award honors quality and innovative health education programs on the county/multi-county and state/multi-state levels.

The Center of Excellence for Training and Research Translation at the University of North Carolina also has recognized the program as one of five recommended nationally for use by others as an evidence-based intervention.

The Iowa WISEWOMAN project is the brainchild of retired Iowa State University professor Elizabeth “Betsy” Schafer. ISU Extension nutrition and health field specialists on the project are Patricia Anderson, Nancy Clark, Susan Klein and Jan Temple. For more information, contact Litchfield at

This article appeared in April 2008 -- From Jack Payne Newsletter