Mortenson: Supporting Heart Health Education | Letters

Prevention and awareness-raising for cardiovascular diseases should be at the forefront of any discussion in health care. It is time to mobilize public health efforts to communicate heart health risks and educate about preventive measures, especially in rural areas where access to health care is an issue. These efforts must draw on the expertise of health professionals, state and local authorities, as well as nonprofit groups and volunteers.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in Wyoming, just as it is in the United States. (CDC, 2021). When do people generally view personal heart health? Typically, consideration is given at the beginning of a significant cardiac event – heart disease is not always obvious. Timing is critical during a cardiac event. Rural residents may be at greater risk of adverse consequences because rural hospitals do not have the resources or specialists to treat patients on-site. Instead, heart patients in rural Wyoming require medical transportation to facilities hundreds of kilometers from the patient’s home. The pandemic only exacerbates the problem. Studies suggest that COVID-19 survivors may suffer a heart injury due to the disease, even if the patient is not hospitalized (AHA, 2020). In short, COVID-19 may literally create ticking time bombs regarding cardiac events at a time when resources are most limited. Overused resources due to COVID-19 also threaten the ability of rural hospitals to move heart patients to higher levels of care (CDC, 2020).

Providers in the countryside need help conveying heart health messages and creating opportunities outside of GP visits to learn about diet, physical activity, and simple self-checks that individuals can do, such as: Imagine strengthening a community with a health fair that focuses on heart health, where attendees are given blood draws and digital blood pressure cuffs along with educational materials that give facts about what to look for when there are negative heart health indicators. Understanding basic cardiovascular care guidelines can help save lives, especially in rural areas where prevention is vital for citizens who do not have specialized care available.


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