Medical center promotes heart health - Camp Lejeune Globe: Carolina Living

Medical center promotes heart health

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Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2019 11:00 am

Valentine’s Day is a holiday for the heart and staff at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune want to make sure that heart is healthy.

The medical center hosted its Heart Health Fair on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune on Valentine’s Day. The event featured plenty of information on maintaining heart health as well as blood pressure checks.

The fair was part of a month-long series of events focused on the heart.

Hospital Corpsman second class Neal Mendoza, a cardiovascular technician at the hospital, said the fair was designed to get people thinking about heart health.

“This is about prevention, the earlier the better, even if there are no symptoms” Mendoza said. “It’s about living a healthy life. If you are living a healthy life, you not only look good, but you feel good. If it’s on a bike or even at home, get 20 minutes of something.”

He said 20 minutes of exercise daily will go a long way toward having a healthy heart. He said eating foods that are low in salt, added sugar and trans fats is important as well, though he recognizes the need for a sweet treat every now and again.

“It’s all about portion control,” Mendoza said. “You just can’t quit cold turkey. You just can’t, so it’s all about portion control.”

He pointed out that yearly physicals with a doctor are a must. After all, heart disease is the leading cause of death for American men and women, accounting for one in four deaths.

“Just a simple lab workup, we can learn anything and everything from that,” Mendoza said.

Registered nurse Francine Reeves, who works with health promotions and wellness on Camp Lejeune, emphasized the dangers of high blood pressure to those attending the health fair. She stressed that lifestyle changes can have a big impact on lowering a person’s blood pressure. Those include increased exercise, a healthy diet and an end to tobacco use.

She also informed visitors about the updated blood pressure guidelines from 2017 that may still cause some confusion.

“They changed those guidelines, and the reason they did that — and I think it’s an important reason — is an increased awareness of how dangerous even slightly elevated blood pressure can be to your health,” Reeves said.

Anything less than 120/80 is considered normal, but higher readings could indicate prehypertension. High blood pressure can damage arteries and lead to such things as strokes, heart attacks and aneurysms, among other health issues.

She said active-duty service members may be prone to high blood pressure, symptoms of which may not appear for years. As such, she has started a free high blood pressure class specifically for active-duty service members.

“We’re starting to see more and more blood pressure problems with active-duty service members,” Reeves said. “High blood pressure is the No. 1 chronic condition among veterans. We’ve always known that, but we’re starting to see that in younger and younger people. People are really in tune with the external dangers they have, but they forget that they are facing an internal danger when you have high blood pressure, and that it can

be a silent but deadly killer. It’s almost like a submarine underneath

the surface of the water.

It raises up, but it’s already done its damage before you might even be aware of it.”

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