Guest Column: Diane Rexford, SHGM Nurse Practitioner
February is American Heart Month
At Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial, the month of February is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on heart disease, stroke and other related illnesses. Our healthcare professionals are eager to help raise awareness about the importance of keeping your heart healthy and steps you can take to promote your heart health and reduce risk of disease.
In 2015, heart diseases claimed 167 lives in Newaygo County. It is a leading cause of death in our community for both men and women in Newaygo County.
The good news is...
...that you can do something about it – and Gerber Memorial wants to help.
On Saturday, February 18, Gerber Memorial will host a special event specifically geared toward providing resources for women to know their heart health and catch potential complications before they spiral out of control.
Called “Your Heart Matters,” the event will be held at Tamarac from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. I’ll be joined by many health professionals to provide free screenings and share health information. The free screenings will include cholesterol screenings, diabetic screenings, pulse checks to detect irregular heart rates that increase risk of a stroke and much more.
The free event will also feature door prizes, fitness activities and healthy foods.
Additionally, I’ll be giving a free presentation about ways to stay heart healthy at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Our event focuses on women because heart disease symptoms in women are different than in men. According to Hollywood, the classic sign of a heart attack is a person clutching their left chest or feeling like an elephant is sitting on their chest.
The reality is many women describe heart attacks as a pain between their shoulder blades or as a heaviness in their arms. It is also common for women to describe their heart attack as preceded by a pain in their jaw and even a toothache. As a result, many of them go to their dentists only to be told they need to go to the hospital right away.
For women, so many things can affect the well-being of our hearts.
Sleep disorders can affect our hearts. Eating too much food and too much processed foods are also factors. In Newaygo County, lack of exercise opportunities presents another impediment. Smoking and family history are also major factors. And heart diseases are more likely in women over 65, compared with men, who can see heart diseases as early as in their 30s.
Because of these factors, Your Heart Matters is designed to help women in Newaygo County take action for better heart health. We’ll share information about arterial fibrillation, which feels like butterflies in the chest. We’ll screen for high blood pressure, a silent killer that has no outward symptom. You’ll hear about stress tests, nutrition and so much more.
As a nurse practitioner, I see an average of around 13 patients a day. Your Heart Matters is an opportunity for us to see many, many women in one morning, allowing us to do more for more people as we work together to keep our community healthier.
When I give presentations to women, I often ask every other woman in the room to stand. I ask all of them to look at who’s standing. Then I tell them: That’s how many women will have a heart disease, which affects half of all women.
Heart disease may be prevalent. At the same time, it can be detected early and managed. For this reason, I invite everyone to come to Your Heart Matters. This is information that can positively affect your life and the lives of your loved ones. So please join us on Saturday, February 18, and take charge of your health.
Editor’s Note: Diane Rexford has been a registered nurse for 23 years and a nurse practitioner for 16.To save your seat for her presentation, call 231.924.3073.
Letter to the Editor Policy
Near North Now welcomes original letters from readers on current topics of general interest. Simply fill out the form below. Letters submissions are limited to 300 words.