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Taking self-control of heart health

Medical Center celebrates re-accreditation with community fair

Listening to and following your heart isn’t just good advice for emotional decisions anymore.

The Medical Center of Southeast Texas staff said the best way to prevent heart disease and stroke is to “take control of your own heart health” by getting to know the ins and outs of the body’s circulatory pump.

“The key to heart health is prevention,” Katie Celli, Medical Center of Southeast Texas director of marketing and public relations, said Wednesday. “We are the only acute center in Mid- and South Jefferson County with a complete, comprehensive cardiovascular program.

“We feel we’re the one-stop shop for heart health in our community. But we can’t do this on our own. It all begins with educating the community so they know what’s going on with their bodies before they ever need to come to one of our (catheterization) labs or step foot in our heart center.”

To its recent re-accreditation as a certified chest pain center by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care, the Medical Center of Southeast Texas hosted a free community heart health fair Wednesday morning.

Celli said the primary goal of the event was to provide as much information as possible and a strong foundation for heart health that residents could build on in the future.

The Medical Center featured a massive inflatable brain that people could walk through during its community heart health fair Wednesday.

The Medical Center featured a massive inflatable brain that people could walk through during its community heart health fair Wednesday.

Health fair visitors were greeted by two towering inflatable models — one of the human brain and one of the human heart.

“Today is about showing the heart and brain — how they work together to keep us healthy and safe, and how their function will be impaired in the event of a heart attack, stroke or other cardiac event,” Celli said. “So you start at the models and then walk your way through the booths with all of these things that go along with heart health. Everything our visitors see and do today can be used as another tool to take control of their own heart health.”

Piper Hale, Medical Center of Southeast Texas director of quality services, said the health fair visitors could pick up information on stress management, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs, preventing communicable diseases, how to cook heart smart breakfasts, how to access their own health records online and sleep apnea — “a precursor to sudden cardiac death and heart disease.”

“We’re also providing free cardiac screenings, blood pressure checks, and height and weight calculations to let people know their healthy ranges in the Body Mass Index — because staying within that range is a huge way to prevent stroke,” Hale said.

Clyde Drake, Medical Center of Southeast Texas clinical programs coordinator, said the hospital — which also acts as a primary stroke center — would provide signs and symptoms to watch for in the event of a heart attack or stroke.

“Heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and 4 killers of men and women in the United States,” Richard Gonzalez, Medical Center of Southeast Texas chief executive officer, said in a press release. “It is vital that we do our part to inform the young and old about the signs and symptoms to look for when it comes to heart attacks and stroke. This is just one of the ways in which we are seeking to make that a fun and informative experience.”

Drake said by providing information — and several as non-invasive exams — the community would walk out of the door Wednesday with a detailed look at their current heart health and how to improve it in the future.

The Medical Center featured cooking demonstrations for a heart smart breakfast during its community heart health fair Wednesday.

The Medical Center featured cooking demonstrations for a heart smart breakfast during its community heart health fair Wednesday.

Celli also used the event to announce a new partnership with the American Heart Association.

“We’re going to be the title sponsor for their annual heart walk for the next two years,” Celli said. “During the event — the Heart of Rock N Roll 5K (at Lamar University Nov. 14) — we’re going to bring many of our educational booths from today, as well as CPR training. And because it’s the Heart of Rock N Roll, we’re setting up bands and other rocking festivities along the 5K walk and a finish-line festival at the Montagne Center. It’s all part of our goal to make heart health not just educational, but fun.”

The Medical Center of Southeast Texas is located at 2555 Jimmy Johnson Blvd. in Port Arthur.

For more information, call (409) 724-7389.

Twitter: @crhenderson90