The annual Alegent Heart and Vascular Health Fair is coming up soon. On Saturday, February 18, from 7 to 11 a.m., in the Bergan-Mercy Pavillion, you’ll be able to hang out with all kinds of specialists in the field of heart health. There will be booths and volunteers dedicated to every aspect of cardiac wellness just waiting for you to pose your hardest questions. You can undergo a cardiac risk assessment, get your blood pressure taken, your BMI measured, and chat with everyone from exercise therapists to weight management experts. You’ll even be able to cozy up to one of our many cardiologists for a free, off-the-record second opinion (“I have this cousin with a nasty rash right in the center of his . . .”).
And how much will this whole experience cost you? Nothing—it’s free (as are the healthy snacks provided). To get you ready to come to the Heart and Vascular Fair I’d like you to take this short, simple test. The answers are at the bottom. Ready with the number 2 pencil? Okay. Let’s begin.
- What medication should all adults over 40 take?
- a cholesterol drug
- a placebo
- an antidepressant
- An otherwise healthy 40-year-old female is most likely to eventually suffer what disease?
- Breast cancer
- Coronary artery disease
- Prostate enlargement
- Neurosis brought on by husband/boyfriend/significant other
- If you are a man watching a football game and develop chest pain, at what point should you call for an ambulance?
- At half-time, but only if your team is winning by a comfortable margin
- As soon as the football game is over
- Once the post-game commentary ends
- The moment your wife asks you to clean up the pizza boxes and wash the dishes
- How much of what type of exercise is recommended to keep your heart healthy?
- 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking, at least 5 days a week
- At least an hour a day more than that really annoying skinny girl who’s always bragging about her Zumba
- Several hours a day of exercising your right to become one with the couch
- You need to re-create Madonna’s Superbowl half-time performance every evening in the privacy of your home (thigh-high boots included)
- If you develop the abnormal heart rhythm atrial fibrillation, what is the first step you should take?
- Locate your old high school Webster’s Dictionary to figure out what the heck atrial fibrillation is
- Quickly call 1-800-LAWSUIT to see if you can get in on a class-action tort
- Flip through cable channels 500-900 to see if there is a reality TV show that applies to your illness
- Talk to your doctor about seeing a local cardiac electrophysiologist (and then look up “electrophysiologist” in your Webster’s)
Congratulations. I’m sure you passed, but in case you doubt your cardiology prowess, here are the annotated answers:
- Despite the fact that your doctor tries to put you on a new pill every time you come for a routine appointment, there is, in fact, no medication that we recommend for every patient. Aspirin and statin medications are helpful in people at higher risk for heart attack and stroke, but patients who have healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and lifestyle habits generally don’t derive benefit from these drugs.
- Women are just as susceptible to coronary atherosclerosis as men and more females will die of heart disease than from any other entity (breast cancer included). It is regrettable (in my biased opinion) that the issue of women’s heart health never attains the kind of publicity that breast cancer does, but we’re hoping to change that. If you’re looking to hear a woman’s side of the story I’d encourage you to check out the lecture by the esteemed Dr. Ruby Satpathy on fancy-schmancy newfangled valve procedures at 9:30 a.m. There should be plenty of time for you to ask her questions afterward.
- Of course, the correct answer is “none of the above.” According to Dr. Joseph Thibodeau (lecturing on the subject of chest pain at 10:15 a.m.) it is actually possible for men to dial 911 and he will be offering remedial training on this tricky procedure. After that he’ll give a short lecture on how to do dishes and a PowerPoint presentation on how dirty socks manage to get cleaned and folded after they’re tossed onto the floor.
- At a minimum we recommend 30 minutes a day for most days of the week. Anything that gets your heart rate up for a sustained period is useful and can be walking, running, swimming, elliptical, reading the letters-to-the-editor section of the local paper, etc. But, if you decide exercise just ain’t for you, we’re always happy to treat your heart attack as well. For more on that subject come listen to the cardiologist we like to call the Zen of Zumba, Dr. Himanshu Agarwal, who’ll be speaking at 8:45 a.m. on the newest therapies for coronary disease.
- The correct answer is D. If you attend the lecture on atrial fibrillation by Dr. Luis Couchonnal at 8:00 a.m. you’ll be able to bask in the warming glow of a board-certified cardiac electrophysiologist and learn more than you ever thought possible about things like heart rhythm, ablation procedures, and how to pronounce Dr. Couchonnal’s last name.
Congratulations. You passed your test. Come celebrate with us on Saturday!