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Doctor’s Advice: Take this Holiday to Heart

Love is in the air. On perhaps the Hallmarkiest of holidays, full of little candy hearts, flowers and chocolates, people tend to have their heads in the clouds. We speak, of course, of Valentine’s Day.

We plan romantic dinners and elaborate getaways to make our heart’s desire swoon, but doctors don’t miss a beat. It’s just another day at the office for them, though better than most as a learning tool.

“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women, but luckily it can be prevented by normalizing cholesterol, stabilizing blood pressure, not smoking and exercising on a regular basis,” says Dr. Mark W. Sheehan, a cardiologist with Porter Adventist Hospital’s Heart and Vascular Institute. “Knowing this can give people hope to prevent heart disease by allowing them to take an active approach to their health.”

His first point is a bit of a buzz kill, true, but something to think about as we collectively worship that most important of organs, the one around which this entire holiday was created.

And the timing is apropos, as February is American Heart Month and the Centura Heart Network is spreading awareness about cardiac health in Colorado. From a free online heart assessment to the chance to win the new American Heart Association cookbook, there are many tools available for people who want to improve their heart health.

The problem is, many Coloradans don’t know that heart disease is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined or that about half of Americans have one or more of the three risk factors — high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking — for heart disease.

Prevention and early education are essential components according to the Centura Heart Network. From advanced testing through early detection programs, to online heart risk assessment tools, Centura Health is one group that is leveraging the strength of their network to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease for patients and their families.

“At St. Anthony Hospital, for example, we offer preventative services along with a variety of rehabilitation options for patients who have undergone open-heart surgery, as well as patients with conditions such as congestive heart failure and angina or are recovering from a heart attack or placement of a stent,” says Sue Nilson, RN, Manager at St. Anthony Hospital Cardiac Rehabilitation Center. “From nutrition counseling, customized heart exercise programs to education on smoking cessation and managing diabetes, the individualized care we are able to provide through the Centura Heart Network can help reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease for patients and their families.”

So on this day, spare a moment to think about the organ behind all the cards and candy. After all, if yours isn’t healthy and happy, how can you offer it up to someone else.

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