American Heart Month

Debbie Simon, UnityPoint Health

February is American Heart Month, dedicated to raising awareness about heart disease and increasing our knowledge about prevention. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women, and it is a major cause of disability.

Fortunately, we have excellent hospitals and physicians in central Illinois, giving us access to top-of-the-line cardiovascular care. Here at Methodist, we take pride in offering a comprehensive approach to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Our Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU), one of the first such units in the U.S., was recently one of just two hospitals in Illinois to receive the Bronze Beacon Award for Excellence in Critical Care. The Beacon Award was presented to the Methodist CVICU for successfully improving patient outcomes and meeting the highest national criteria. In addition, 87 percent of our cardiovascular nursing staff has earned advanced certification as Adult Cardiac Surgery Certified Nurses. Only 73 nurses in Illinois hold this higher level of certification, and 16 of them are right here at Methodist!

Coronary heart disease, the most common heart disease in the U.S., often takes the form of a heart attack. The Methodist Emergency and Trauma Center has the LifeNet system, which enables emergency responders in the field to transmit full 12-lead electrocardiograms (EKGs) from patients suspected of a heart attack. Our ER physicians receive that information faster, so treatment can begin sooner. Opening a blocked artery quickly can help reduce damage and preserve the heart's pumping ability. That's why the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend that blood flow be restored within 90 minutes. At Methodist, our average is 63.5 minutes.

Methodist also offers therapeutic hypothermia—cooling therapy designed to prevent or reduce brain damage and increase survival after sudden cardiac arrest, when the heart abruptly stops. If the heart can be restarted, cooling the body’s temperature within a few hours can minimize brain damage, helping patients survive with the best possible quality of life.

And for those struggling with heart failure, there are many treatment options for improved quality of life under the direction of Dr. Alexander Adler, heart failure specialist and medical director of Methodist Medical Group Cardiovascular Services.

Of course, the best weapon against heart disease is prevention. Overeating, drinking, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle, as well as family history, can all increase the risk for heart disease. Knowing your numbers for important indicators like cholesterol and blood pressure can help you take charge of your health. That’s why free and low-cost screenings are provided throughout the community through the Methodist Wellmobile.

The changing face of healthcare brings an increasing emphasis on individuals becoming more active participants in their health. Making smarter lifestyle choices and working closely with physicians and other providers can help you get the best possible healthcare at the lowest possible price. As we observe American Heart Month, let’s all resolve to be more conscious of our lifestyle decisions and make 2012 a better and healthier year for all. iBi

Add new comment