Saint Louis University

Author: Danielle Mach
Published: Monday, February 18, 2013

Saint Louis University Dietetic Interns discuss heart health month

Welcome to American Heart Month! As Lisa Kinsella mentioned in the previous blog post, February focuses on heart health and to kick it off, the SLU Dietetic Interns and I volunteered at the Heart of the Family Event at Missouri Baptist Medical Center on February 2, 2013. It was a large event with 585 total attendees showing interest in keeping their heart healthy! It was the 20th anniversary of this event and with it came an endless amount of activities! There were options to listen to a variety of speakers talk about the importance of heart health or you could check out the cardiac catheterization lab. There was even an opportunity to go to the OR surgical suites to see a simulation of how the 18,000 heart surgeries since 1984 have been performed! There were also stations to get their cholesterol and body composition checked for free as well as tasting some great recipes such as a butternut squash/carrot soup for some healthy ideas!

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States for both men and women with about 600,000 deaths each year, but it is also the most preventable and controllable disease. Nutrition and physical activity are vital components in preventing and controlling heart disease. The Heart of the Matter Health Fair focused on educating the community on various aspects of staying heart healthy.

Saint Louis University Dietetic Interns discuss heart health month

Here are the main ingredients to keeping your heart healthy:

  1. Eat a healthy diet
    This may seem simple, but with 1 in every 4 Americans visiting a fast food chain every day, eating a healthy diet has become trickier for people to achieve over time. However, eating a healthy diet doesn’t mean giving up the foods that you love, it just means eating the right balance of foods to help you stay healthy inside and out. Try some great snack options offered at Taste-a-Rama at the health fair such as Kefir probiotic yogurt, edamame, freeze dried fruit, or multigrain crackers! (All donated by Dierberg’s.)
  2. Saint Louis University Dietetic Interns discuss heart health month
  3. Maintain a healthy weight
    On average, Americans gain 1lb per year and after a decade those extra 10lbs can negatively impact your health, but maintaining a healthy weight can be achieved by balancing what you eat with what you do. Knowing your body composition can help you focus on maximizing muscle and minimizing fat mass. The health fair allowed participants to assess their body composition at the InBody machine that gave a description of the fat distribution within the body. The dietetic interns assessed the print out from the machine so that a healthy weight goal could be highlighted and changes could be successfully implemented.
  4. Exercise regularly
    Your heart has a job too! It pumps your blood to various organs in your body to keep them working efficiently. Raising your heart rate keeps your heart working so that it doesn’t get lazy. Keep active by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going for a walk with a friend or your spouse. Try to get at least 150 minutes a week (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. You can also be more active with your kids! The health fair created an opportunity for the children to dance to music to stay active. There was also a display to educate the kids on the differences between healthy organs and diseased organs. Moving together can help a family stay healthy together!
Saint Louis University Dietetic Interns discuss heart health month

Overall, this event offered the opportunity for community members to take the initiative to become more educated on being heart healthy. I was personally impressed by the size of the event as well as the interest of so many people to come find out their body composition or cholesterol levels amongst the many other educational opportunities incorporated into this health fair. I challenge you to take the opportunity this month to become aware of your health numbers and to take the initiative to take care of your heart!

Saint Louis University Dietetic Interns discuss heart health month