February campaign ensures ‘the beat goes on’

By Mary Ann Crispin, RNJanuary 28, 2022

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEE, Va. – February is Heart Health Month, making it a perfect time to “show some love” to the most-vital organ in your body.

In recognition of the observance, the Kenner Army Health Clinic staff encourages Team Lee members to join in the Feb. 4 celebration of National Wear Red Day – an annual event held on the first Friday of the month that allows individuals to express their support for heart health.

Bringing attention to the benefits of a healthy lifestyle is a year-round goal of every care provider in the military health system. A good diet, regular exercise, getting enough sleep and maintaining routine medical checkups are the surest ways to reduce the likelihood of heart disease complications.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of women, surpassing all forms of cancer combined. An estimated one-in-four deaths in the U.S. are due to this ailment. About 670,000 Americans die from heart disease each year.

“One person dies from heart disease every 36 seconds,” reads a statistic on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. “[It] does not discriminate. It [affects] men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.”

The term “heart disease” refers to several types of conditions. The most common in the U.S. is coronary artery disease, typically resulting in decreased blood flow, which can cause a heart attack.

Many have heart disease and are not aware of it until a physician’s diagnosis after they experience symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure or arrhythmia. The CDC reports that roughly 1-in-5 heart attacks are silent. The individual does not know damage has occurred. This factor alone should compel people to learn the facts. Additional information is available at www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm.

Of all the facts, remember this one. The risk for heart disease can happen to anyone, including the very young. That means anyone at any age can benefit from the previously noted balances of staying active and having a healthy diet.

The Kenner team understands that exercising and eating right can be difficult with the stresses of everything happening in the world today. This is especially true in a household setting with busy moms and dads balancing child-rearing, work demands, financial responsibilities, the threat of the coronavirus, and so on.

Just remember that small changes can yield big results. For example, set a food goal for the week that is manageable for the entire family. Instead of take-out, pledge to make more meals at home with fresh ingredients and more vegetables than meat products. Plan evening walks a few times a week. Set limits on “couch time.”

Those concerned about their weight can take advantage of the services offered by Kenner’s dietitians. No referral is required. To schedule an appointment, contact the Family Medicine Clinic at 804-734-9993 or 734-9585. Initial nutrition sessions last 60 minutes and follow-up appointments are 30 minutes. Both in-person and phone consultations are offered.

The Kenner family also includes the staff of the Army Wellness Center, offering free services to military personnel, DOD Civilians, family members and military retirees. For more information and appointments, call 804-734-9384 or 734-9925.

The following is a recap of disease mitigation measures offered by the American Heart Association:

·        Get least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise. Read more at www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults.

·        Discuss risk factors with your healthcare provider and ways to reduce them.

·        Know your cholesterol numbers. High LDL levels contribute to a build-up of plaque along the walls of arteries that can interfere with blood supply to the heart.

·        Pay attention to blood pressure, blood sugar and weight – they are the numbers that most affect our lives.

·        Check your blood sugar with an A1C test at least annually. Diabetic complications can seriously affect health and lead to heart complications.

·        Stop smoking. The provider team can help you enroll in the smoking cessation class offered by Kenner.

The campaign message of the month is clear. With a few changes to everyday activities, one can lower the risk of heart disease and heart attack. Educate yourself. Talk to your primary care manager by making an appointment today.

Kenner beneficiaries have the option of scheduling appointments in one of two ways. The TRICARE Online Patient Portal – www.tricareonline.com –  is available 24/7, 365 days a year. It is a convenient and easy way to book an appointment. Beneficiaries also can call the Patient Appointment Line at 1-866-LEE-KAHC (533-5242) from 7 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.

The time is now to take control of your heart health.