Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. dies of heart disease- but with the right knowledge and lifestyle changes, that number could easily plummet. Methodist Hospital hosted a presentation and blood pressure screenings at Innsbrook Country Club on Thursday, with the hope of arming the community with the information they need to be more heart healthy.
Dr. Mihas Kodenchery, a cardiologist for Methodist Physicians Group’s Heart and Vascular Centers, cautioned that high blood pressure is a silent killer.
“The day [high blood pressure] bothers you may be the last day of your life, you cannot wait until you have symptoms,” Kodenchery said. “And much of the time, the damage from heart attacks and strokes are irreversible.”
Kodenchery spoke about the American Heart Association’s new guidelines on blood pressure indicators for cardiovascular issues, which have been updated for the first time in 14 years to reflect recent studies and evidence. Under the new guidelines, 130 mmHg/80 mmHg and above is defined as high blood pressure, versus 140 mmHg/ 90 mmHg, which was the threshold of the past guidelines.
Kodenchery said these new guidelines are not only more reflective of the realities of heart disease, hypertension, and high cholesterol, but it will help doctors and patients recognize any potential complications earlier on.
“We want to catch people early on, we don’t want to wait until they have a heart attack,” he said. “When we see high blood pressure, it’s not necessarily about putting someone on medication, but rather to have better nutrition and exercise habits. There’s no bad side-effects to that.”
That’s why Methodist Hospital had free blood pressure screenings and an informative, friendly staff ready to answer questions and disperse knowledge. Kodenchery said it’s important to empower people to keep tabs on their own blood pressure, and not wait for the occasional doctor’s visit to check up on their heart health.
Also talked about was the huge importance of lowering sodium intake, maintaining a regular exercise regimen, and adjusting eating habits to include more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy- things that even the best medication cannot do for heart health.
The room was packed not only with curious attendees, but important questions that Kodenchery answered thoroughly and with care. Mary Hutchinson, nurse practitioner at Kodenchery’s office, said opening up that dialogue is crucial to combating heart disease.
“Getting people talking is important,” Hutchinson said. “They definitely need to ask questions, and there were a lot of really good questions tonight, and getting those answers really relieves them of their fears and misconceptions.”
Sheryle Benson of Merrillville said she finds Methodist Hospital’s health seminars to be an excellent resource, of which she is a regular attendee.
“It was great, very informative,” Benson said. “There were several interesting things he talked about, about the different blood pressure levels and how they’ve changed, and what to be worried about, and not worry about.”
Linda Peterson of Gary said she plans to see a cardiologist in a few days, and is glad to go into her appointment freshly informed.
“It’s just a great thing, and, financially, with the screenings and being able to ask questions, it supplements healthcare in between doctor visits,” Peterson said. “You get the chance to interact with a professional, and you can pass it on to your family and friends.”
Methodist Hospitals is always hosting health-centered, free events for the community, such as their “Healthy Night Out with the Girls” and “Free Peripheral Artery Disease Seminar and Screenings” events coming up in early March. Check out their site for more information at: http://www.methodisthospitals.org/
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