Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. Treating heart disease through early intervention and promoting ideal health behaviors such as nonsmoking, lowering body mass index, physical activity and healthy diet while identifying risk factors and health disparities can prevent the onset of heart disease and reduce avoidable healthcare costs and admissions. In 2018, Mercy Hospital of Buffalo began the Heart Smart for Life program to improve heart health in its community.
Mercy Hospital started small with nutritional tabling events to gain trust and demonstrate hospitality. After examining comments from participants, the hospital began building the program around basics: food, drink, activity and healthy living, incorporating heart-healthy wellness and prevention. The Heart Smart for Life program offers multiple sessions related to health and access to affordable, healthy foods and beverages; participants are provided with recipes, demonstrations and tastings. Recipes are sent home with fresh produce and simple instructions to increase skills and knowledge and support healthy meal choices. To encourage physical activity, the hospital created community environments for exercise, including chair yoga sessions. Tobacco cessation and medication safety/compliance are supported through education and referrals. Alternative wellness programs address the mind, heart, body and soul.
In addition to heart health, the program emphasizes stroke education and prevention. Individuals who have had strokes, caregivers and those seeking to prevent a stroke participate in these sessions to supplement their stroke treatment and knowledge.
For program participants, average blood pressure readings decreased from 145/89 to 134/82 in a three-month period. Eighty-three percent of participants scored 75% or higher for their knowledge of healthy eating habits in a post-test. Sixty-one percent reported a stop or reduction in the use of tobacco products. Sixty-seven percent of those measured as high risk decreased their cholesterol to under 200 mg/dL.
For more information, contact Nancy Stoll, director, neuroscience clinical services, at (716) 949-5942 or firstname.lastname@example.org.