Sweet newborns, expert dieticians, and advanced technology all stress importance of heart health every day

Feb 27, 2023
New cardiac CT scan is latest tool added to NMC’s resources for patients

(Nacogdoches, TX)
– What do tiny newborns, dieticians and technology have in common? Heart health. Nacogdoches Medical Center (NMC) is pulling out all the stops to help remind the community of the importance of taking care of their heart. Doctors and staff at NMC said it is vital to urge the community to take care of their heart health every day. Here’s what they’re doing to drive this important message home:

Newborns at NMC remind us: Heart health should start the minute you’re born.

Newborns-send-heart-health-message-IMG_4281 New moms and dads at NMC got into the spirit of heart health awareness by photographing their newborns surrounded by red hearts and décor as a way to remind the community that a healthy heart starts as soon as your born. New parents at NMC said they’d work to start their children off with heart healthy habits that would last a lifetime.

Heart disease doesn’t happen just to older adults. It is happening to younger adults more and more often. This is partly because the conditions that lead to heart disease are happening at younger ages. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high rates of obesity and high blood pressure among younger people (ages 35–64) are putting them at risk for heart disease earlier in life. Nearly half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking

Heart disease risk factors can affect all ages. The CDC indicates other conditions and behaviors that affect risk for heart disease include:

  • Obesity -- Carrying extra weight puts stress on the heart. More than 1 in 3 Americans—and nearly 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 — have obesity.
  • Diabetes causes sugar to build up in the blood -- This can damage blood vessels and nerves that help control the heart muscle. More than 1 in 10 people in the United States have diabetes.
  • Physical inactivity -- Staying physically active helps keep the heart and blood vessels healthy. Only 1 in 4 adults meet the physical activity guidelines of getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week.
  • Unhealthy eating patterns -- Most Americans, including children, eat too much sodium (salt), which increases blood pressure. Replacing foods high in sodium with fresh fruits and vegetables can help lower blood pressure. Only about 1 in 10 adults get enough fruits and vegetables each day. A diet high in trans fat, saturated fat, and added sugar increases the risk factor for heart disease.

What can I do to stay heart healthy? NMC dietitian gives heart healthy grocery shopping advice.

Staff at NMC also took time this month to enlist a registered dietician to demonstrate for the community the importance of smart grocery shopping for heart-healthy eating habits. Registered Dietician Landon Evans, walked through a local grocery store with Leigh Anne Carver of NMC. Evans stressed the importance of staying focused while shopping to avoid purchasing less healthy items that aren’t needed and also to help stick to a budget. Evans also advised shopping on the outer aisles where healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, fish, lean means and whole grains are usually displayed. The center aisles are where healthy items such as frozen fruits and vegetables, as well as canned and dry beans, and instant oatmeal are located.

In addition to healthy eating, the CDC recommends the following: Stay active. Get moving for at least 150 minutes per week. Work with your healthcare team to manage conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Quit smoking. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

Prevention is the best medicine. NMC adds a new Cardiac CT Scan for heart calcium scoring.

Staff-at-NMC-are-proud-of-the-new-CT-technology-at-the-hospitalNacogdoches Medical Center also added a brand new CT scanner that will allow patients to know how much plaque (calcified or hard build up) they may have in their arteries. Plaque in the arteries can cause heart attacks. The cardiac CT calcium score, also known as a coronary calcium scan, is quick, convenient and noninvasive method of evaluating the presence, location and extent of plaque in heart vessels that supply oxygen-containing blood to the heart muscle.

Carey Lindemann, M.D., family medicine physician and chief of staff at NMC, said that calcified plaque results when there is a build-up of fat and other substances under the inner layer of the artery. “The goal of cardiac CT scan for calcium scoring is to determine if CAD is present and to what extent, even if there are no symptoms. Dr. Lindemann said the scan may be recommended by a physician for patients with risk factors for CAD but no clinical symptoms. “Heart disease can be a silent killer so knowing your risk is important and the CT scan for calcium scoring can help avoid a heart attack or stroke,” she said.

Dr. Lindemann said plaques can calcify, which signals the presence of atherosclerosis, a disease of the vessel wall, also called coronary artery disease (CAD). “Over time, progression of plaque build up (CAD) can narrow the arteries or even close off blood flow to the heart. The result may be chest pain, sometimes called ‘angina,’ or a heart attack,” she said.

Dr. Lindemann stressed that because calcium is a marker of CAD, the amount of calcium detected on a cardiac CT scan is a helpful prognostic tool. The findings on cardiac CT are expressed as a calcium score.  

NMC recommends a CT scan for heart calcium scorning for anyone with major risk factors for CAD, including:

  • High blood cholesterol levels
  • Family history of heart attacks
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Overweight or obese
  • Physical inactivity

The CT scan takes only a few minutes, with the entire procedure lasting only about 15 minutes. After the scan, patients can go home and safely resume normal activities. Cost is $120 and may be covered by some insurances.

For more information, to take a heart risk assessment or to find a doctor, visit https://www.nacmedicalcenter.com.

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