By Curtis Thill, MD
While you’re reading this, your heart pumps roughly 1.5 gallons of blood per minute, reaching around 100,000 heart beats a day. No other organ in your body is as vital to life. The 37 trillion cells in your body depend on it.
That’s why physicians and providers spend a lot of time working to keep your heart healthy. Here’s a wake-up fact followed by some good news: cardiovascular disease, including issues related to the heart, is the world’s number one cause of death. The good news? Engaged patients can directly reduce the odds of heart disease and improve the health of their hearts (and their quality of life), which is exactly what’s happening to many in our region.
Earlier in 2022 we at Southern Indiana Community Health Care started up our Follow My Heart program and the performance numbers are excellent for those who actively participate. Two of our medical staff, Donna Charles, LPN, CHW and Cynthia Gillespie, CMS, CHW have helped many patients in the Crawford County region lower their blood pressure and improve their health. Thier advice to you? “You can do it!”
Why is this important? Blood pressure earned the nickname the “silent killer” because people typically can’t feel it when their blood pressure is high. Left untreated, high blood pressure – hypertension – can lead to all kinds of problems, some potentially irreversible. As people age, their blood vessels typically stiffen which contributes to hypertension and other issues. Donna and Cynthia (and our other providers) help our patients reduce their risks and improve their health.
So it’s in your best interest to learn more, which is why every February is designated National Heart Health Month.
Here’s an important issue: when I tell patients that they have high blood pressure, often I hear comments that they’re planning to do something about it. As many patients have found out, they can indeed take charge of the blood pressure and bring it down!
Here’s one way: through the Follow My Heart program, we give our patients a free blood pressure remote monitor. In the program, which lasts for three short months, Donna and Cynthia provide details about how patients can take their own blood pressure at home. They also provide information about the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), including a free book of tasty, easy-to-prepare recipes.
The good news? The Follow My Heart program works! The free monitor instantly tells the patient how they’re doing and also securely sends the data to our offices. Coupled with medication and some simple changes in lifestyle, engaged patients watch their blood pressure come down and their heart health improve.
(Donna provides more details in a short two-minute video on our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/FollowMyHeart-CHC)
Regardless of whether you engage in our Follow My Heart program or another program, you can take steps yourself to promote a healthy heart and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
As we age, we often slow down and stop exercising. Your heart can benefit from simple exercises like regular walking for 20-30 minutes.
Eat fresh foods
It’s easy to grab a box of macaroni and call it a meal. That’s okay once in a while, but your body – and your heart – need fresh vegetables.
Yes, this is a tough one, but it has a high payoff.
Find a partner to help
There are many good providers in our area, and they can be a big help. You don’t have to go it alone.
Make this February your Good Heart Health month and reap the benefits!
A board-certified family physician, Dr. Curtis Thill has practiced medicine in the Crawford County region for more than 30 years.