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A Gift from the Heart

Civic leader and philanthropist Adelaide C. Ward establishes a women's heart health center in Kansas City after receiving an unexpected diagnosis and lifesaving care

Adelaide C. WardIn 2008, heart disease caught Adelaide C. Ward by surprise – resulting in a quadruple bypass surgery at The University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City. Ward realized she was not alone in neglecting her heart health, and she resolved to spread the word about the dangers of heart disease in women.

The Adelaide C. Ward Women's Heart Health Center at The University of Kansas Health System was established in 2012 to help raise awareness of women's heart disease. The bright, modern space provides heart health education and programs focused on cardiac health for women.

"I wanted to give back to the hospital for the wonderful care given to me with my open-heart surgery in 2008," Ward says. "A center dedicated to women's heart disease is so important, because women can have very different symptoms than men do. I had at least two episodes that were indicators my heart wasn't working as it should, but I didn't recognize the warning signs."

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Education and specialized care

The need to educate women and girls about heart disease is eye-opening. Even though heart disease is the leading cause of death globally, claiming more lives than all cancers combined, only about 1 in 5 women believe heart disease is her greatest threat. Additionally, about 90% of women have 1 or more risk factors for developing heart disease.

In addition to receiving heart health education and awareness, all women who come to the women's heart health center have access to personalized heart care, dietary counseling, support groups and additional resources to promote a heart-healthy lifestyle. The center even collaborates with Girl Scouts, offering a "red badge of courage" as the young women learn important lessons about nutrition, exercise and health.

A lifetime of health

The women's heart health center is a gateway to women's heart health services and includes a full spectrum of care specialized across a woman's lifetime – from heart disease prevention and diagnosis through treatment and follow-up. Professionals who are specially trained to recognize the unique, subtle signs of heart disease in women help patients understand their risks and how to manage them. Experts in oncology, gynecology, pulmonology and other specialties collaborate to treat women who may have more complex conditions.

"My hope is that women will come to this lovely, comfortable place to find answers they need for better heart health," she says.