Women attend workshop aimed at health issues

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 15, 2003

Hormone replacements have been linked to cancer by some medical studies.

Women are two times as likely to suffer from depression than men, statistics have shown.

In women's health news, statistics and studies can lead to more questions about living a healthy life.

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To answer some of those questions and to provide tips on preventing health problems, Austin Medical Center holds a Women in Health workshop once a year.

About 250 women gathered Saturday from 8 to 11:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn Conference Center to learn more about heart failure, lipid management, depression and hormone replacement therapy.

"It's just a great way to get preventative information," said Tami Oldfather, communications manager at AMC.

Dr. John Coppes, obstetrician and gynecologist at AMC, addressed a study that was released last summer about hormone replacements putting women at greater risk for some types of cancer, heart disease and blood clots.

But estrogen has also been shown to decrease risk for colon cancer and osteoporosis, he said.

Women usually start taking hormone replacements to suppress symptoms of menopause, such as severe hot flashes, Coppes said.

Taking them isn't right for all patients, he said. Women who have a history of cancer in their family or already have heart disease shouldn't take them, he said.

But for women whose menopause symptoms interfere with relationships and sleeping habits, hormone replacement would help, he said.

Nancy Oelaers, of Austin, came to hear about hormone replacement therapy and because she had been to the workshop before and found the information useful.

At the end of the workshop, AMC hands out an evaluation to assess it and to get suggestions for the next one. Depression was the most requested topic on last year's evaluation, Oldfather said.

This year, Kathleen Laurin, a licensed psychologist in AMC's behavioral health care, talked about the symptoms of depression and how it can be treated.

Women are more at risk for depression during their reproductive years, Laurin said. Some studies have shown that hormones play a role in suffering from depression, she said.

Anti-depressants and therapy, and sometimes a combination of both for severe cases, are the best treatments for depression, Laurin said.

"There are different forms of depression," Laurin said. "Fewer than half of women that have clinical depression ever seek treatment."

Mary Mueller, a retired nurse who now works at Gerard Treatment Center, thinks the workshop is so useful, she invited her sister-in-law, daughter and friends.

"It's so good, it's so informational," Mueller said.

Oelaers, one of her friends, signed up before Mueller told her about it.

"As soon as the invitation came, I sent it in the next day," Oelaers said.

AMC sends out registration forms to a database of women patients have asked to be on the list to receive information about heart health and workshops. Some are patients at the heart center or the tobacco cessation clinic or are involved in the mall walking program.

The workshop is free and nurses also received 2.1 contact hours of continuing education for attending.

"The price is right, the information's good and the food's good," Mueller said.

Cari Quam can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail at :mailto:cari.quam@austindailyherald.com