With heart disease as the leading cause of death in America, and the second most common cause in Kansas, it is something that is very near and dear to us in the Stormont Vail Health community.
When we talk about heart disease, we are usually referring to heart and blood vessel conditions (cardiovascular disease). The culprit responsible for this is usually the buildup of plaque, a hard substance made of cholesterol, fat, calcium and other substances, in the artery walls.
When this plaque accumulates over time, the arteries become thicker and narrower, reducing blood flow through blood vessels and to the heart. These blockages can lead to serious heart conditions, such as embolisms (clots), angina (chest pain) and heart attacks (when blood flow is cut off to the heart, and some heart tissue dies).
What Does Heart Disease Mean for Our Community Health?
People with heart disease might experience many symptoms, including:
- Pain or tightness in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Pain, numbness, weakness, or coldness in the limbs
- Fluttering sensation in the chest
- Irregular heartbeat
Heart disease is costly, too. The average per-person cost of care for Medicare patients with heart disease in Shawnee County was around $18,000 in 2015 alone.
What Are the Keys to Addressing Heart Disease in Our Community?
Two powerful factors can make a difference when it comes to reducing preventable health conditions like heart disease:
- Access to health care
Stormont Vail Health is here to help our community members prevent, or better manage, heart disease and the problems that come with it. We host programs and events for the whole community to provide education on protecting heart health, and helping loved ones do the same. We also provide referrals to tools and resources that can help you do it.
It’s great to take advantage of programs like these. But learning about heart disease is only half the battle. The other half is actually taking steps to prevent it or manage it in your own life.
How? First, make sure you’re seeing your physician as frequently as he or she recommends. If you’re at risk for heart disease, your primary care physician can identify your personal risk factors and help you to prevent them from developing into heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.
If you have already been diagnosed with heart disease, your physician might:
- Start you on medication to prevent your arteries from clogging further
- Give you tips on lifestyle changes, such as exercise and a healthier diet, to stop the progression of your disease.
- Refer you to other resources that can help you, such as support groups
Working with a physician as early as possible can lower your chances of having a heart attack or stroke – or of having these events occur a second or third time.
At Stormont Vail Health, heart disease patients may also be paired with care managers and social workers to discuss their health care plans and goals. They also can address non-medical challenges that can keep them from getting care, such as transportation issues. If needed, a behavioral health specialist can step in to provide emotional assistance and guidance, as well.
We also have community events and resources to help prevent heart disease and other health conditions, including:
A Closer Look: Life with Heart Disease
4 Signs Of Heart Attack That You Shouldn’t Ignore
More Than Clogged Arteries: Cardiology Terms Explained
How To Help Your Loved One When They Need Bypass Heart Surgery
Next Steps for Patients
– To stay on top of your heart health, book your next primary care visit by calling 785-270-4440. You can also use MyChart to make an appointment.
– Learn more about heart care services at Stormont Vail Health.
Next Steps for Referring Providers
– If you are a Stormont Vail provider, make a referral online through EPIC.
– If you are not a Stormont Vail provider, call (785) 270-4000 or (800) 468-0177 to refer your patient.