OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – The 9th Annual Go Red for Native Women Heart Health Summit will be held virtually this year.
The American Heart Association has recognized every February as American Heart Month. AHA recognizes the importance within the Native American population to learn about heart disease as it is the leading cause of death.
According to Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Larry Vark, studies show heart disease is almost three times higher in the Native American population than any other population.
“Since it has such an impact in mortality and the disruptions on families and lifestyles, it is very important for Native Americans to learn about healthy hearts and what to do,” Dr. Vark said. “Heart disease, if you have it then it can be reduced and if you don’t have it then it can be prevented.”
The strong heart study, which Dr. Vark said was the largest study conducted on the health of Native Americans, had originally reported 12% of Native Americans were victims of coronary heart disease.
“We feel its been under-reported by almost 20%, so we’re looking at 30% in the general population,” he said. “Diabetics have a high incidence of coronary heart disease. In diabetics of 65 and older can be as high as 75 to 80 percent.”
In order to maintain a healthy heart Dr. Vark said one reason would be making lifestyle modifications. With obesity and diabetes contributing to the onset of heart disease, people should monitor sugar level, saturated fat in diets and avoid carbohydrate rich diets. Eating healthy and getting at least 30-minutes of physical activity each day can reduce heart disease.
“If you don’t smoke, don’t start and if you do, please try to quit,” Dr. Vark added.
Some studies ongoing are showing the genetics of heart disease, according to Dr. Vark such as certain blood bags in the system and a structure of hearts of Native Americans.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic Dr. Vark said there has been an increase of heart disease in young people who are uncommon to have previous high risk factors. COVID-19 seems to not only be a lung problem but a cardiovascular problem as well.
“Inflammation of the blood vessels can lead to blood clotting, if that blood cot occurs in the arteries that supply the heart then that can lead to a mild heart attack which can be very serious,” he added.
In order to prevent heart disease MCN clinics go over the ABC’s with patients.
“A” is the hemoglobin A1C level, being the measure of long-term activity of the amount of sugar in the blood stream. MCN doctors and nurses look at this number to see if people are improving sugar controls or having difficulty of sugar control.
“B” is blood pressure this can cause strain on blood vessels and contribute to heart disease. Blood pressure numbers vary within age but if the numbers are higher than normal seek medical attention.
“C” is cholesterol too much of this in someone’s diet will lead to heart disease. Cholesterol has a lot of genetic influence.
To learn more join the American Heart Association’s summit “Drum to the Beat of a Healthy Heart.” This free virtual event will discuss heart disease and its impact on the community and what you can do to protect your heart, the hearts you love and the hearts in your community, emceed by KOAT’s Royale Da on February 4 from 10 a.m. to noon. Join the event at: https://heart.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_YDAiqcCsTKu2Uitf9EA9Ug.