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Be good to your heart

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Heart disease takes the lives of far too many people in Bermuda, depriving their families of someone they love and care about - a father, mother, wife, friend, neighbour or spouse.

With one out of two men and one out of three women succumbing to heart disease over their lifetime, just about all of us have been touched by someone who has had heart disease, a heart attack or a stroke.

February is Healthy Heart Month and healthcare professionals at Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) want you to be good to your heart by understanding how to prevent and treat the number one killer of both men and women in our community: cardiovascular disease.

Not only is heart disease the major cause of death, it also leads to disability, preventing people from working and enjoying family activities. And it places an enormous financial burden on patients and on our community, in addition to contributing to the rising cost of health insurance premiums.

Yet most heart disease is preventable through lifestyle changes that focus on better eating habits and more physical activity. The goal of healthcare providers at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital is to empower patients to take responsibility for heart-healthy choices. A series of programmes that teach prevention, management and treatment of conditions like hypertension, cardiac disease and diabetes are offered by hospital staff. In addition, comprehensive cardiology services offer screening and treatment options to patients with cardiac disease.

“The hospital provides diagnostics and expert consults,” said Dr Carl Levick, BHB director of cardiology. “Our Cardiac Diagnostic Unit offers screening procedures designed to detect and monitor heart disease. These include electrocardiograms, echocardiograms and stress testing. We recently introduced nuclear imaging (for patients unable to ambulate on a treadmill) and trans-oesophageal echocardiography, which has expanded our ability to accurately diagnose and treat various heart conditions. As a result of these screening procedures, patients who may be having symptoms suggesting serious cardiac disease, such as chest discomfort and/or shortness of breath, can now receive a more conclusive diagnosis and appropriate treatment can be started.”

With a greater emphasis on education and prevention, healthcare workers hope to make headway in the fight against coronary disease.

Lifestyle changes that include a healthy diet, moderate daily exercise and the reduction of stress levels are integral to the management of various risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and physical inactivity. Research has shown that managing these risk factors will significantly reduce the incidence of cardiac events.

“If we continue with our current trends, one in two Bermudians will develop heart disease in their lifetime,” said Myrian Balitian-Dill, cardiac nurse specialist. “Lifestyle changes and appropriate screening and treatment by primary care providers are effective ways to prevent heart disease, as well as a means to maintain health in those already affected by a cardiac incident.”

Heart-healthy tips:· Ask your doctor if you should take an aspirin every day.

· Know your numbers and get to goal. Aim for:

-Blood pressure: less than 130/85

-Fasting blood sugar: less than 126 mg/dL

-LDL Cholesterol: less than 130mg/dL

· If you smoke, get help to quit and stay quit

· Have five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day.

· Move your body at least 30 minutes/day or 200 minutes/week

· Take the stairs, walk your dog, danceanything that will put a little more activity in your day

· Keep sodium intake to less than 2000 mg/day by limiting foods with more than 300 mg sodium per serving

· Find ways to relax stress has negative health effects

The hospital offers classes based on wellness principles, designed to assist those who have risk factors, as well as those with existing heart disease. Intended to meet the specific needs of our population, courses include:

Pressure Point: A four-week course designed to assist those with high blood pressure.

Heart Line: A four-week course designed for patients recovering from a cardiac incident.

Quit Smart: A four-week course offering power treatments to quit smoking and remain a non-smoker.

Diabetes Education Classes: A one-week course designed to control and manage diabetes.

For more information or to enroll in any of the above courses, contact 239-2027.

Dr Carl Levick reviews the results of a nuclear stress test.
June Belloquet with patient on treadmill.
KEMH staff giving a patient an echocardiogram.

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Published February 23, 2012 at 11:00 am (Updated February 23, 2012 at 11:08 am)

Be good to your heart

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