It's a question Jane Andrews decided the female administrators in her company shouldn't have to ask when it came to the devastating consequences of heart disease.
She had been startled by a message on television that heart disease kills 12 times as many women each year as breast cancer. She had been encouraged by another message about the heart screening programs, just for women, that are available now at Providence Women's Heart Center.
So, as Vice President of Administration for Mashburn Construction Company in Columbia, Jane took steps to add heart screenings for women administrators to the company's benefits package.
Eight women at Mashburn, ranging in age from their late 30s to nearly 60, have already taken part in the screenings.
"I knew the strength of Providence Heart Institute, and I thought it would be a great benefit for our women," Jane says. "I thought the counseling part was key to making the screening valuable," Jane adds. "During the screening, you talk to a nutritionist, or an exercise specialist, and you learn about all the things you can do to prevent heart disease."
Brenda Wilson, a Mashburn project administrator for the past 11 years, approached her appointment at the Women's Heart Center with anxiety.
Since she was adopted at birth, she had no information about her family medical history, and Brenda's gynecologist had already disclosed that her cholesterol was higher than it should be.
His advice to Brenda was, "You have heart disease. It doesn't matter what your family history is. You need to make drastic changes to prevent a heart attack."
"I was terrified," she confides.
Mercifully, Brenda was immediately put at ease at the Women's Heart Center.
"The process is not intimidating," Brenda says. "It seemed like my heart was their sole purpose for being there that day.
"It's a one-on-one experience with the staff," she adds. "Being women, I think they understand of the importance of the details, like how intimidating stepping on a scale can be. They made me feel like I had nothing to fear."
A breakdown of Brenda's cholesterol numbers also told a new, more hopeful story. While her overall cholesterol level was slightly elevated, the number was influenced by a very high HDL level (the "good" cholesterol) and an only slightly elevated LDL (the "bad" cholesterol).
"They found out that my triglycerides were low, so they suggested I introduce more citrus into my diet, like eating an orange or drinking a glass of juice every day," Brenda says. "We also talked about increasing the good fats in my diet, like raw almonds. And I didn't even know I liked yogurt until they suggested I try it!
"Providence really broke down all the myths for me," Brenda concludes. "It gave me a real sense of peace."
For Mashburn, the investment in the screenings at Providence Women's Heart Center is already paying dividends.
"Anything we can do to improve employee health gets results by keeping our health insurance claims down," says Jane Andrews. "Mashburn's philosophy has always been to take care of our people, and we see this as a great way to do that."
Find Out More About The Women's Heart Center
Most people are shocked to learn that heart disease kills 12 times as many women each year as breast cancer.
Early detection can literally be the difference between life and death, and that's why Providence launched the Women's Heart Center. Our mission is to assist women in assessing their risk for heart disease and to encourage them to aggressively pursue follow-up measures with their family physician or cardiologist.