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Active Partnership for Heart-Healthy Living participant Rex Watson practices hand-only CPR at a recent meeting.
Heart-Healthy Living Year Round
After having open heart surgery in 2003, Searcy resident Patty Rine began looking for a way to learn more about heart health. She soon found the Active Partnership for Heart Healthy Living monthly meetings at White County Medical Center. Rine, along with her husband Floyd, have missed only a handful of meetings in the past nine years.
“Every meeting is interesting and helpful,” Rine said. “All of the meetings are heart-healthy related, and we hear various doctors and nurses present information on a variety of topics; each speaker has something to add that I had not considered before. This is a great program to have here at the hospital; I encourage former patients to come, especially if they have been through the cardio-rehab program. These meetings serve as a good complement to the medical treatment you receive in the hospital.”
Director of the Critical Care Unit (CCU) at WCMC Vicki Dahlem coordinates the Active Partnership meetings. “We started this program because we saw so many patients with heart diseases in the CCU. Many people in our area deal with heart disease; therefore, our goal is to focus primarily on coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. Heart health relates to every other aspect of our well-being, so the topics we cover are diverse, including how diabetes and depression relate to heart health. We have even learned hands-only CPR.”
“As the medical field advances, there is a wealth of new information to learn about in the area of heart health,” Dahlem said. “For example, there are hundreds of medications on the market specifically for heart health from high blood pressure to cholesterol. We have started working with the Harding University Pharmacy Program, and I invite them to come educate our group on the new medications every few months.”
Other topics covered in the meetings include cardio exercises, nutrition, heart surgery, pacemakers and peripheral vascular disease, as well as a demonstration of chair yoga and other helpful exercises attendees can do at home. For participant Jan Hogan, one of her favorite aspects of the meetings is collecting new heart-healthy recipes.
In addition to learning, the lively group of attendees also enjoys each other’s company once a month, as well as a good, heart-healthy meal. Dahlem, along with other CCU nurses, select the meal for each month’s meeting from a small library of heart-healthy cookbooks.
While the Active Partnership for Heart Healthy Living meetings are open to anyone interested in learning about heart-healthy living, most attendees have experienced a heart episode including heart attack, open-heart surgery, and pacemaker or stent placement.
“When we see our doctors in a clinic setting, often times, they are busy and have other patients to see,” said attendee Rex Watson. “But, when they are here at these meetings, they take time to relax and sit down at the table to talk to us one-on-one. I enjoy that aspect of these meetings. Also, we are in a better situation to listen to what they have to say. Right after having a heart episode, people are often not in a good condition, or good frame of mind, to hear what the doctor says. Once some time has passed and we attend these meetings, we are more open and appreciative of what they have to say. I think this is one of the greatest programs the hospital has to offer.”
Upcoming dates for the Active Partnership for Heart Healthy Living meetings are September 11, October 9, November 13 and December 11. The group meets at 5:30 p.m. in the Hubach Conference Center at WCMC, located at 3214 East Race Ave. The $5 fee for each session includes a meal; the meeting is free if you do not have a meal. For more information, please call (501) 380-1161.
ABOUT WHITE COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER
As the leading healthcare provider in a six-county area, White County Medical Center associates strive to create a healthy community by providing quality patient care and participating in community health events. White County Medical Center is the largest employer in Searcy with more than 1,500 associates. The facility has a combined total of 438 licensed beds and a medical staff of 150 physicians that specialize in various areas of healthcare.