Newaygo County learns about heart health at Gerber Memorial’s ‘Your Heart Matters’
FREMONT- Three billion, three-hundred million.
That’s how many times the human heart beats in the course of an average lifetime for a person with a normally functioning heart. Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial’s Christopher Hudson, MD, shared trivia and critical tips and information about how people can take charge of their heart health during “Your Heart Matters,” a free annual event held at Tamarac on Saturday in conjunction with Heart Health Awareness Month. Hudson emphasized, among things, the importance of preventative measures
“Unfortunately, one of the more common presentations for heart disease is a heart attack or sudden cardiac deaths, so we don’t get warning signs and some of us die from those things – so that’s why prevention is so important,” Hudson said to more than 70 people who attended the event. When listing risk factors for heart disease, Hudson cited two joint culprits as Public Enemy Number One: tobacco and obesity.
“If we can work on combating those things – tobacco and obesity – that’s a good start,” Hudson said.
Other major risk factors for heart disease: High-blood pressure, stress, cholesterol, diabetes and sleep apnea, which lowers blood oxygen during sleep.
Hudson recommended smokers and tobacco users talk to their provider about ways to quit, or consult free Quit Tobacco programs available at Tamarac. To tackle obesity, Hudson encouraged people to be more mindful of their diets and be physically active.
Hudson, who lived in Kenya for a year about 12 miles from the capital Nairobi, said lifestyle can impact obesity, heart disease and other related illnesses: “I lived in this area right in the middle of these tea fields, and Kenyans did not deal with heart disease and they did not deal with cancer because their diets were so good and they were walking everywhere. You barely saw someone who was overweight.”
Weight loss can also help reduce high blood pressure, and cholesterol can be managed with a range of strategies, from a more balanced diet to medication in consultation with patients’ providers to the power of prayer, which Hudson said can also help combat stress.
“A heart at peace gives life to the body,” Hudson said, quoting a proverb. “The heart is an incredible organ. We have a lot to be thankful for.”
Hudson’s advice for people hoping to improve their heart health and may face barriers along the way: “Start with one problem. Don’t try and tackle a whole lot. I think sometimes we can get overwhelmed if we try and do too many things. Quit smoking. Lose some weight. Pick one, and the statistics show that if you have a resolution, if you choose to make a change, you’re 10 times more likely to be successful than somebody who doesn’t make a resolution.”
Other presenters at “Your Heart Matters” included Emilie Klop, Gerber Memorial registered dietitian, and respiratory therapist Roxanne Mirkle, who addressed heart healthy nutrition and exercises.
Hudson said that together, with preventative measures, the right diet and exercise, people can take proactive measures to reduce artery-clogging plaque buildup, which can start to occur even among teens and young people.
The event featured free screenings that included:
To schedule free heart screenings at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial: 877.495.2626, option 4.
To learn more about quitting tobacco: 231.924.7589
For information about diet and weight: 231.924.3073