HIBBING — February is all gifting sweethearts, greeting cards, chocolates, flowers and jewelry to a special someone. But while many are thinking about Valentine's Day, the American Heart Association urges people to recognize American Heart Month and consider heart health and seek out information on how to prevent heart disease.

In conjunction with the federally designated month, Fairview Range in Hibbing is also recognizing National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week scheduled to run between Feb. 9-15.

Ann Hauser, Fairview Range Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab Coordinator, says that patients who have recently had a heart event such as a heart attack, bypass surgery, stents, valve replacement, or other heart problems can utilize the Cardiac Rehab program.

Generally, patients attend the program two to three times per week for eight to 12 weeks. The program consists of several exercise sessions in which EKG monitors the heart during exercise as well as an assessment of vital signs; this allows people to exercise safely and help them gain the confidence to physical status. Education on risk factors is part of the program to promote a healthier future.

About 86 patients here ranging from ages 21-91 completed their program in 2019, according to Hauser. Of those patients, 77 percent were male, 23 percent female and the mean age was 70 years old.

For the patients that have completed cardiac rehab or those with a referral from their health care provider have the option to join Fairview's WEL (Wellness and Exercise for Life) program. The program allows people to exercise in the rehab department gym during assigned hours for a monthly fee.

Fairview's Cardiac Rehab department plans to participate in National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week by offering their patients different fun activities, healthy snacks and drawings. Hauser mentioned that WEL patients have a lot of fun and have requested some specific snacks and also expressed how patients gain more than just a physical benefit but also develop friendships.

Last week, Jessica Shuster, Marketing and Public Relations Supervisor at Fairview Range, encouraged all staff to show their support for the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women,” a movement to end heart disease and stroke in women.

What is heart disease?

The local recognition of heart health comes at a time when heart disease ranks as the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.

Heart and blood vessel diseases include an array of problems, many of which are related to the process called atherosclerosis, according to the American Heart Association. Atherosclerosis is a condition that develops when plaque builds up in the artery walls. The buildup makes it more difficult for blood to flow through. Heart attack, stroke, heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart valve problems, heart muscle disease, and vascular disease are a few examples of heart disease; cardiovascular disease. Common risk factors that contribute to heart disease are hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), smoking, obesity, diabetes, poor eating habits, and lack of physical activity.

Data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that heart disease is the second leading cause of death in the state. In 2017, more than 47,000 hospitalizations and 19 percent of all deaths were heart disease-related, according to the most recent calculated measure. Meanwhile, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one person dies every 37 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. That is about 647,000 Americans, one in every four deaths.

According to the American Heart Association, the heart beats about 2.5 billion times over the average lifetime, pushing millions of gallons of blood to every part of the body. Choosing to make healthy food choices, engage in daily physical activity, tobacco and alcohol-free, preventative visits with a health care provider, healthy blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce stress are lifestyle choices that will assist with living a heart-healthy life.

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