“Heart disease remains a major concern in our country. The latest research indicates that from 2003 to 2013, the death rate from heart disease has fallen about 38 percent, but the burden and risk factors remain alarmingly high. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women,” explains Tammy Thompson, MS, RCEP, Cardiac Rehab Manager/Exercise Physiologist at Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie du Chien. “According to the American Heart Association about 750,000 Americans have a heart attack every year. About 2,200 Americans die each day from heart disease in the United States—that’s one every 40 seconds. Yes, these statistics are alarming, but there is good news—heart disease is preventable and controllable. Knowing your risk factors and how to prevent heart disease should be everyone’s key priority.”
In recognition of February-American Heart Month, heart disease will be the focus of a free community education program sponsored by Crossing Rivers Health Cardiac Rehab on Thursday evening, February 25. The evening will begin with a free light heart-healthy meal at 5:00 p.m. prepared by Crossing Rivers Health Nutrition Services followed by two 20-minute presentations with helpful information to improve heart health through stress management. There will also be a time for discussion and questions. The program’s featured speakers are Crossing Rivers Health’s healthcare professionals Patrick Stovey and Austin Neis, Exercise Specialists in Cardiac Rehab, as well as Shelby Byrnes, Registered Dietitian.
“Evidence supports exercise as an effective way to manage stress and promote health by improving your mood and makes us feel good about ourselves,” Thompson adds. “Patrick and Austin’s presentation on stress management will provide us all an insight into how daily ‘life’ stress plays a major role in heart disease.”
As a Certified Exercise Specialist, Patrick Stovey has helped many area individuals return to a normal life after a heart event. He explained, “Sudden illness is a very stressful situation for patients and their families. One major role we play in Cardiac Rehab is helping patients and their families to increase their awareness of stress and help them to use stress management techniques; such as exercise, relaxation and deep breathing to assist in coping with the increased stress of the recovery process. Returning to their hobbies or work is the most important part of the recovery process, but often adds stress because patients have a decreased level of confidence in returning to these activities due to an underlying fear of something happening again.”
Austin Neis is new to the Crossing Rivers Health Cardiac Rehab team. Bringing new ideas to Cardiac Rehab from his education at UW-Platteville on health and fitness, Austin is excited to begin his career educating patients on heart disease and prevention through weight management, stress management and physical activity counseling. Austin helps patients understand that increased stress is a normal part of the recovery process after a major heart event. He shared, “Stress management is so important as it pertains to heart disease prevention.”
Both Austin Neis and Patrick Stovey are looking forward to sharing information on how stress impacts the heart. They will also share relaxation and deep breathing techniques, alternative ways to relieve stress and the benefits of group exercise sessions.
Shelby Byrnes is the Registered Dietitian for Crossing Rivers Health and primary care clinics in Prairie du Chien and Fennimore. She will wrap up the evening with a presentation on stress eating. She provides nutrition education and counseling to a variety of populations and ages through inpatient, outpatient sessions and community outreach. Her expertise includes helping those with diabetes and weight management. She specializes in both prevention and management of illnesses and diseases. She said, “A healthy diet, as a part of a healthy lifestyle, is essential to reducing our risk of heart disease. We all know that what we choose to eat affects our weight, but it is surprising how many other ways our nourishment affects our bodies!”
Reservations are encouraged to help hospital staff plan for the meal. Individuals planning to attend are asked to call Cardiac Rehab at 608-357-2349.