Red was the color of the day Friday as patients and employees at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital’s facilities observed American Heart Month, celebrating its cardiac and pulmonary patients and staff.
While many people across the national chose to wear red the first Friday in February for the National Go Red Day movement, locally, the observation was held at the end of the month with those donning the crimson color gathering Friday morning in the cardiac rehabilitation center for a group picture.
Ali Wood, registered nurse and coordinator for cardiac and pulmonary rehab at Hugh Chatham, explained the center is designed for patients who have suffered a major cardiac event, such as a heart attack, stints or congestive heart failure.
“We teach patients how to exercise properly, how to regain their strength, how to decrease their fear so they know what they’re able to tolerate and how to exercise in a safe manner to reduce risk of another cardiac event,” said Wood following the group photo opp Friday morning. “The goal is to have the exercising on their own at home at least 30 minutes a day by the time they graduate.”
But she said there are preventative measures people can take to avoid making it to the cardiac rehab center at all.
“Our motto to avoid ending up here is to eat less and move more,” Wood said. “Basically eat more heart healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy carbohydrates.
“And then exercising. We lead sedentary lives, we sit and watch television, are on the computer, so we need to make sure we are exercising, taking our medications properly and going for yearly exams,” she said.
Another key to avoid being a future patient is to know the warning signs before a major event occurs. Wood said those include chest discomfort, fatigue and shortness of breath.
“If you begin to have those conditions, then you need to consult your physician.”
For those who need the service, the rehab center is open three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with multiple class times. To participate one simply needs a referral from their physician, Wood said.
And there are no age limitations for those who might need the service. “We’ve had all grades of ages, from people in their early 30s to those in their 90s.”
As far as Friday’s activities and special red attire, she said the hospital does that “to celebrate cardiac rehab, and observe Heart Disease Awareness Month. It is to celebrate our patients and bring awareness we are here.”
The cardiac rehab program at HCMH is medically supervised and includes exercise in the heart and lung rehab gym. The program monitors a patient’s vital signs, EKG rhythms and exercise tolerance.
According to the program’s brochure, “Your cardiac rehabilitation team helps you with exercise therapy, disease management, diet and psychosocial education and counseling.”
Staff members involved include a physician, a registered nurse, an exercise physiologist, a registered dietitian, a licensed clinical social worker and a rehab technician.
The program, in addition to exercise sessions, includes a required education session on varying topics such as disease counseling, medication administration, lifestyle modifications and more.
American Heart Month is designed to bring awareness to cardiovascular disease, which, according to the Center for Disease Control’s website, is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the CDC site, “one in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, equal to 2,200 deaths per day.”
For more information, visit the American Heart Association’s website, www.heart.org, or the CDC site at www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.