American Heart Month Aims to Create Awareness

19 Feb 2015 | Pfc. Ned Johnson Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

While Valentine’s Day focused on our emotional heart, Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune wants patients to focus on their physical heart.

February was declared American Heart month by President Obama because heart disease, which will affect one in three Americans over the age of 35, is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.

“Recognizing risk factors can be beneficial in the prevention of heart disease,” said John Swett Jr., a health educator with Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune. “Some of these risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes and a family history of the disease.”

While many think heart disease is something experienced by older people, patients with heart disease can range from 20 to 80 years old.

Swett added that Marines who consume large amounts of energy drinks or use tobacco frequently are at a much greater risk to have heart or blood pressure issues in the future.

“To reduce the risk of heart disease, patients should quit any tobacco or nicotine use, exercise 30 minutes a day and make healthy diet decisions,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Dettmer, a cardiologist with Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune. 

Better food choices include foods low in saturated fats, sodium and dietary cholesterol.

Eating more vegetables and less processed foods are also ways to improve your heart health.

“While most of those are lifestyle changes, simply making better choices throughout the day can make a big difference,” said Swett.

“People are not going to stop (eating fast food),” said Swett. “But you can make a better choice when you’re there. The child’s meal is really an adult serving so, Marines don’t need to super-size.”

While patients may not think they have risk factors for heart disease, their decisions today can affect the future.

“Young Marines think they are indestructible and nothing can hurt them, which is a great attitude to have as a Marine,” said Dettmer. “But they don’t realize that in 50 years they will be a retired Marine and have to deal with what choices they made in their 20s.”

For those who want to better their heart health, the Naval Hospital offers a four-week course called the Healthy Heart Program that covers prevention and treatment and is open to all beneficiaries.

For more information about ways to improve your health call Health Promotion and Wellness at 451-3712.

Editor’s note: This article does not constitute medical advice and as with any situation patients should contact their primary care provider in regards to medical concerns.