Women’s heart programs help with mindfulness, mental health

The Dottie Fuqua Women’s Heart Support Network started at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital and expanded to Piedmont Fayette, thanks to generous donations from Fayetteville resident and Piedmont Foundation Board Member Vicki Turner. The program further expanded to hire a full-time program coordinator and began serving Piedmont Newnan thanks to a grant from the Cigna Foundation. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many of the programs offered by the Women’s Heart Support Network have moved on-line. Avril James, the program coordinator for Fayette and Newnan, has found they have been a lifeline for many women in the area.

“We’ve seen the number of participants double in many of these programs, including the weekly meditation and yoga programs,” said James. “They give women of all ages a chance to decompress and engage with others to reduce feelings of isolation.”

The Women’s Heart Support Network was built on the foundations of flourish, nourish and thrive. Flourish is about mindfulness and stress relief, while nourish focuses on healthy eating and thrive is focused on purposeful movement. In addition to meditation, which is offered every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and yoga, which is offered every Wednesday at 6 p.m., there are special events scheduled for June that will focus on mindfulness and stress management.

Jennifer Butler, M.D., will lead “Goodnight Sleep Heart,” on Wednesday, June 3 at 5 p.m. The discussion will be based around the importance of sleep for total health and wellness. 

Honey Judith Rubin will lead “Speak Peace,” on Saturday, June 6 at 11 a.m. The workshop is aimed at nonviolent communication. This is a system which changes your understanding of human interactions, empowers with empathy, and may greatly reduce your own self-judgment. The goal is for participants to learn to communicate with others and themselves, increase their empathy skills, and learn a meditation practice. 

Research has shown that women with heart disease are more likely than their male counterparts to suffer from a condition called myocardial ischemia when they are under mental stress. Myocardial ischemia is the abnormal restriction of blood flow to the heart, and it can increase the risk of a heart attack or death from heart disease.

“Stress reduction is so important to heart health,” said James. “When you are dialed up, your heart is beating faster, your blood pressure is higher, and heart is stressed, strained, and fatigued. When you can take deep breaths, center yourself and relax, your blood vessels will open and you heart health and brain function will improve.”

All of the classes offered are free. 

Learn more about The Women’s Heart Support Network and these free programs, as well as register, at www.piedmont.org/womensheartsupport.