Adena Health Focus February 20, 2019

Whole Heartedly

Adena heart health programs aim to stop problems before they start

In the United States, about one in every four deaths is related to heart disease, which annually claims about 610,000 lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the state of Ohio, approximately 27,000 people died from heart disease in 2014, the most recent year for which CDC stats are available. Ohio ranked 12th in the nation for heart disease-related deaths that year.

According to a 2015 study conducted by the Ohio Department of Health, approximately 835,000 adults in the state have been diagnosed with a form of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, coronary heart disease or stroke.

It’s because of these statistics that heart health is taken so seriously at Adena Health System. There are numerous preventive measures that individuals can take to prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease, and Adena offers assistance to get you on the right path to heart health.

Beverly Tolle, a nurse practitioner with Adena Internal Medicine, says many of the preventive measures people can take are simple processes that provide significant benefits to the body. These steps are behavioral changes that can prevent cardiovascular disease, and help increase individual measures of health and wellness.

One of the best ways to improve heart health is through weight loss and exercise, Tolle says. Losing weight reduces the strain placed on the heart, which can cause complications such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

“High blood pressure and cholesterol, those are the big things,” Tolle says. 

To keep on top of those levels, Tolle says it’s a good idea for people to have regular wellness checkups to ensure their numbers are in a safe zone. If there is an issue, it’s important for people to see their physician as soon as possible to address the concerns.

When blood pressure is high, it narrows the blood vessels, making it harder for the heart to pump blood through them. High levels of cholesterol also cause the heart to work harder and often lead to the blood vessel blockages that can cause heart attacks and strokes.

“There are many things that can weaken the heart,” she says. “It’s like any other muscle… trying to pump against high blood pressure is not good for the heart.”

When it comes to food choices, it’s important to pay attention to sodium levels. Too much sodium can raise blood pressure. Tolle also warns foods that are often listed as low-fat typically have higher sodium levels.

“When fat is taken out, it’s often replaced with sodium for flavor,” she says. “That’s bad for your blood pressure and heart.”

Other simple practices that can help people reduce the risk of developing heart disease include smoking cessation, getting the proper amount of sleep, staying hydrated and getting plenty of cardio-related exercise.

“Walking is a terrific exercise,” she says. “It’s such a good thing for you. It doesn’t require a gym and can be done by practically everyone. The act of moving is beneficial, but you want to keep up a pace that you’re a little winded. Walking the dog is not always helpful if that dog is stopping every few feet.”

Tolle says it’s important for people to regularly check on their heart health to ensure any concerns do not become problems that can lead to heart attack or cardiovascular disease.

“For many people, it’s not a problem until it’s a problem,” she says. “Once you have a problem, it’s too late for many people.”

Because heart health is so important, Tolle says Adena offers a number of programs to help people get on the right track. Nutritionists can work with you to develop sensible diet plans that contribute to weight loss and help you meet your health and wellness goals.

There’s also a smoking cessation program few people seem to know about. The program provides several guidelines to help successfully quit the addictive habit. According to information on Adena's website, the benefits of quitting smoking can be seen as soon as 20 minutes after quitting.

Additionally, Adena provides a rehab program to benefit people who have cardiac concerns. The cardiac rehab program is aimed at those who have already experienced a heart attack, providing guidance in preventing a second heart attack. Individuals who participate in the rehab program are assigned nurses who assist them with questions and tailor the programs to meet their individual needs.

For more information on these or any of Adena’s heart health and cardiovascular services, visit www.adena.org/heart