A complimentary lesson on how to be healthy

This month, you can learn how to live a long, healthy life free of charge.

To increase awareness of health risks and preventative measures, USF will be offering free courses throughout February as part of USF Mini Med School. The program, which starts today, aims to promote wellness and prevent illness.

Martin L. Silbiger, a radiology professor at USF and former dean of the USF School of Medicine, said the classes allow people in the community to become aware of advances in medicine and health care. Preventative health care is this year’s theme.

“Over the years, (the classes) have focused on cancer, heart disease and the treatment and diagnoses of a variety of illnesses. This year (the classes) will be focusing on preventative medicine to help the community prevent the early onset of heart disease, cancer and other illnesses before it is too late,” Silbiger said.

Robert J. Belsole, interim dean of Health Sciences, will host the courses. The classes will feature information sessions from some of USF’s top teachers, researchers, and clinicians in the field of health science.

Silbiger, who founded the health series in 1996, said heart disease, which is usually thought by the public to be a prominent risk among men, is actually the number one killer among women. In fact, cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, hypertension, and stroke, kills more women each year than the next seven causes of death combined, according to the American Heart Association. In addition, according to the Web site of St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, Miss., women are more likely than men to die of a heart attack. Information on how to prevent heart disease will be discussed in an information session on Feb. 16th.

The sessions will also include information on how indoor and outdoor environments can affect health, recognizing and preventing depression, the obesity epidemic and its consequences, and information on how to age well.

“It’s very important that people take charge of their own well being,” Silbiger said. “We can’t prevent people from eating every greasy thing they can get their hands on, but we can give them information on how to get and stay healthy.”

Both sessions, tonight and on Feb. 23, will be held at the Louise Lykes Ferguson Hall at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Each two-hour session starts at 7 p.m. and is sponsored by the USF Health Sciences Center.