SPECIAL | feature
IPS RECIPIENT SOL VIDAL ALMELA
Feels the Love from P.E.O.
Studies Women’s Heart Health,
by Becky Frazier, Editor, The P.E.O. Record
Sol Vidal Almela from Valencia, Spain, is a two-time P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship (IPS) recipient. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute with a focus on cardiac rehabilitation and women’s heart health.
“My experience with P.E.O. has been invaluable,” said Sol. Through P.E.O., Sol has been able to connect with women from all over North America. Local chapters J, N and O in Ottawa, where she is studying, have been especially supportive. Sol has attended social events at the invitation of Chapter J, Ottawa, Ontario, and presented programs about her work. She found the encouragement of P.E.O. especially meaningful during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sol said, “I’m away from home, COVID was going on and I was so stressed…then I received all these cards for Christmas and it was so great. I’ve really loved that part—it’s not only the financial support, but also the emotional support.” That’s why, says Sol, when a local chapter asks her to visit their chapter and present a program, she always says “yes.” “It’s a mutual benefit,” she explains. “P.E.O. has been helping me with my education and now I can share what I’m learning with the P.E.O. members.” Sol’s admiration for P.E.O. is palpable. She commented, “All these women are volunteering their time to help people like me and it’s actually changed the way I see things. I know in the future I’m for sure going to join P.E.O. or another organization like this…these people who don’t know you give you a scholarship; I’ve been so grateful and it’s really changed my mindset. These women are giving away their time and helping me and I hope to do that in the future for other people.” Sol’s Ph.D. project is looking at differences in female and male patients diagnosed with heart disease, for example, comparing the symptoms and quality of life between the sexes. She
is part of the Exercise Physiology and Cardiovascular Health Lab, where she investigates how women compared to men respond to cardiac rehabilitation, an exercise program with remarkable physical and mental health benefits for those with heart disease. Are these rehabilitation programs meeting the needs of women? Do women benefit as much as men? Together with her supervisor Dr. Jennifer Reed, they are finding ways to make cardiac rehabilitation more attractive to women, as, unfortunately, fewer women than men participate in these programs. With the help of P.E.O., Sol has been excelling in her Ph.D. endeavors, her first research publication was featured for International Women’s Day by the European Society of Cardiology. For
understand them fully. It’s a growing field and, as a woman, I want to learn about this and how lifestyle changes can help women with heart disease.” In addition to her Ph.D. work in the field of heart health, Sol is also a member of the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance (CWHHA), a group of medical professionals, trainees, researchers and patients working to improve women’s heart health. Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in women in the world. To raise awareness about this important topic, Sol and the CWHHA are pleased to share the following information about heart health with the P.E.O. Sisterhood.
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“All these women are volunteering their time to help people like me and it’s actually changed the way I see things. I know in the future I’m for sure going to join P.E.O. or another organization like this…these people who don’t know you give you a scholarship; I’ve been so grateful and it’s really changed my mindset. These women are giving away their time and helping me and I hope to do that in the future for other people.” — SOL VIDAL ALMELA
her post-doctoral studies, she plans to turn her attention specifically toward women’s health. She explained, “Especially with heart disease and women, for many, many years research studies were done in men only and those results were translated into women…there is still so much we don’t know about women’s heart disease because it’s different than in men. There are some conditions that are more prevalent in women in terms of heart disease and we still don’t
July–August 2022 | THE P.E.O. RECORD
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