Heart Health Screening to be Held at Punxsutawney Plaza

First of many Screenings offered

February 04, 2016

February is Heart Health Month. Everyone wants good, healthy hearts in order to live a long and healthy life.

During this month, there is a lot of talk about heart health risks. But what are they? And what can be done to overcome them?

A free heart-health risk assessment is being offered from 8:30-10:30 a.m., Friday, Feb. 5, at the Punxsutawney Community Medical Building, 551 W. Mahoning St., Punxy Plaza, Punxsutawney. This is the first in a series of free health screenings to be held monthly at this location.

The free risk assessment will include a blood pressure check, pulse check, a review
of personal heart health risks, HeartCaring education pages and a take-home HeartCaring Journal to use as a personal guide to overall cardiovascular healthy living.

Heartcaring is a program that focuses attention to heart health risk and educates people on what these risks may mean so they can talk to their own personal doctors.

Lori Rancik, RN and case manager of The Women’s Health Center and Penn Highlands Healthcare Outreach Services, will be available to answer questions.  “One of the goals of our HeartCaring program is to raise awareness to the risk of cardiovascular disease and make personal lifestyle changes to lower one’s risk.”

What are some of the risks? Here’s a short list of risks that can lead to heart problems and  illnesses.

High blood pressure. Untreated high blood pressure overworks the heart and can result in the heart enlarging and weakening over time. Often a silent disease, most people won’t know they have high blood pressure until informed by their healthcare provider. A normal reading for adults is less than 120 over less than 80. High blood pressure is defined as 140 over 90 or higher.

Abnormal cholesterol. Cholesterol is an important part of healthy body function since it is used to form cell membranes, certain hormones, vitamins and aids in digestion. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is known as “good” cholesterol because a high-level of HDL seems to protect against the risk of heart attack.

It is the low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, that is bad. If too much of it circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain to form plaque.  A clot that forms near this plaque can block blood flow to part of the heart causing a heart attack or to part of the brain causing a stroke.

High LDL cholesterol has no symptoms. A blood test is the only way to detect high cholesterol. The LDL level for most adults should be below 130 mg/dL or 100 mg/dl if you are at high risk for heart disease.

Diabetes.  People with diabetes have a higher-than-average risk of having a heart attack or stroke, according to the American Diabetes Association. They strike people with diabetes more than twice as often as people without diabetes. 

Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke.  Smoking is a major cause of atherosclerosis - a buildup of fatty substances in the arteries narrowing the blood supply, decreasing the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart, especially during times of increased activity. 

Obesity. According to the American Heart Association, “obesity is now recognized as a major independent risk factor for heart disease.” 

Alcohol consumption. Too much alcohol raises blood pressure and triglyceride levels and contains a lot of non-nutritional or “empty” calories. 

Physical inactivity. One-third of all heart related deaths can be attributed to physical inactivity. Lack of mobility and exercise depresses the cardiovascular and immune systems.

Stress.  It is unknown exactly how stress increases the risk of heart disease, but it does. 

Sleep. The Journal of the American Medical Association said that hardening of the arteries accelerated in those skimping on sleep. 

For more information about this screening, contact Rancik at 371-9666. Future screenings include: eye pressure checks from 2-4 p.m., Thursday, March 17, followed by bone health screenings in April, skin/mole checks in May and diabetes screenings in June.