Heart Health Presentation at BCHW and BCH

In February it seems lots of attention goes towards hearts, and in the case of Bath Community Health and Wellness, specifically towards heart health.  The hospital is bringing Melanie Johnson, coordinator of Heartnet for Carilion Health to both the wellness center and the hospital on Monday, February 25th, so the public can learn more, and possibly even save a life. There is no fee, and while preregistration is helpful it’s not required.  I spoke with Melanie to get a little information about the presentation on Monday.

“Well, first of all, heart disease is the number one killer of all Americans and it has been for many many years, basically as long as we’ve been keeping health statistics. We are pushing the age back a little bit, which is good, more than a hundred so years ago, but it still is the number one killer, and a fact for women is that it’s the number one killer of women as well, and it takes more lives than all forms of cancer put together.”

She first described those factors which we can control contributing to heart disease, emphasizing it’s important to turn these factors around as soon as possible, but also never to think that it’s too late to start with healthier habits.

“So the risk factors are basically the same for men and women.  Smoking being the number one risk factor for many, many diseases for Americans, and definitely heart disease. You know if everybody could quit smoking we’d have a lot less disease of all sorts in our country.  But Smoking, and that’s something that’s totally preventable.  You don’t have to smoke. That’s definitely a preventable risk factor.

High blood pressure, another major risk factor for heart disease.  It’s still called the “silent killer”. People can walk around with high blood pressure for years and not even know it.  There are not a lot of signs and symptoms.”

Melanie encouraged everyone to use consistent monitoring as a way to prevent a condition from getting worse.

“If you do know you have high blood pressure, we can certainly control it. And that’s the important thing, having your blood pressure checked frequently, and knowing what your numbers are and then seeking treatment from a physician.  If you’re supposed to be on medicine to always take them as prescribed.  We do see people that will stop their medicines for one reason or another unfortunately in this day and age a lot of it can sometimes be associated with the cost of medicines, but again some people just quit taking them because they don’t feel any symptoms of high blood pressure, they think they don’t need it.”

Diabetes is the third main risk factor for heart disease that Melanie identified and she still grouped it with those over which patients have some control.

“That’s actually something that we can control too, and the type two diabetes, a lot of Americans have it now; it’s almost epidemic stage, and it can be related to physical inactivity.  Your body still makes insulin, but it doesn’t utilize it the way it should.”

Heredity and Age are two of the final risk factors for developing heart disease, and even here Melanie Johnson was clear: awareness and early intervention are two of the best ways to prevent more acute illness, or need for emergency treatment.

“But if you do know, you have heart disease in your family you can start taking steps early in life, hopefully to reduce your risks.”

She went on to describe the signs of a heart attack.

“The pressure and squeezing and pain in the center of the chest; you can also have shooting pain up through the shoulders arms neck or jaw, so it can be kind of anywhere, we say from the nose to the navel, so people will a lot of times try to dismiss their symptoms to something else.”

Melanie Johnson, Heartnet coordinator for Carilion Health is visiting Bath Community Health and Wellness on Monday morning at 10:30 to talk about all of this in more detail.  She’ll be giving a second presentation at the Bistro in the Hospital at 4:00 for anyone who may not be able to make it to the morning session.  Everyone is welcome to attend. With questions: Bath community Hospital 839-7000

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Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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