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Support Group Connects Women Diagnosed With Heart Disease

May 27, 2022

For many women, a heart disease diagnosis or recent cardiac event may leave them feeling alone and scared, but speaking with someone with a similar experience who can offer support and empathy can make all the difference.

To create that opportunity, Hartford HealthCare’s Heart & Vascular Institute has partnered with WomenHeart – a national coalition for women with heart disease – to offer a peer-to-peer support network for female patients living with heart disease. The monthly one hour meetings focus on providing emotional support and education to women who may be struggling with a new diagnosis, recovering from a recent cardiac event or procedure, or simply want to talk to someone who understands what they’re experiencing.

“Our WomenHeart support network is an amazing community resource for women living with heart disease,” said Heather Swales, MD, a cardiovascular specialist in Hartford HealthCare’s Heart & Vascular Institute. “I have so many patients who feel like they are dealing with heart disease alone. When they participate in the group, they realize there are many women out there struggling with similar problems. It is a nice outlet for them to learn how to advocate for themselves and get support from other women in the community.”

Meetings have been established in Southington and Stratford, and are led by specially-trained Support Network Coordinators who are also living with heart disease. Their training is provided by WomenHeart, and includes guidance to establish and lead patient support groups, learning about heart disease and educating women, and telling their personal story to help empower others.

In addition to members sharing their unique experiences and health status updates, the meetings cover a variety of topics including heart disease prevention, nutrition, cardiac procedures and medications, exercise, mental health wellness and more.

“I joined the group for support and to hear and share with others,” explains a WomenHeart Support Network member. “The group has helped show me a way to live with heart disease as I search to find a new normal.”

Meetings in the Fairfield Region are held at the HHC Urgent Care Building in Stratford (3272 Main St.) on the first Wednesday of each month. In Southington, meetings are held at the Bradley Memorial Campus (81 Meriden St.) on the third Wednesday of each month.

To register for meetings at either location, patients can call 1.855.442.4373.

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