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#1 Heart Month Takeaway: Small Changes Make a Big Difference When it Comes to Your Heart

It was a cold morning in late February, but those who got out of the house early to take advantage of a Penn State Health St. Joseph HEALTH4cast event received a bonus – a chance to ask questions and receive advice from cardiologist Andrew Waxler.

Dr. Waxler, a member of Penn State Health Medical Group – Berks Cardiology, was on hand in the lobby of the Bern Township Campus from 7 to 9 a.m., fielding questions and chatting about heart health.

He talked to visitors and staff members about preventing cardiac problems by quitting smoking, maintaining appropriate weigh and body mass index, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, and exercising regularly.

The opportunity was part of Penn State Health St. Joseph’s February Heart Health recognition.

Dr. Waxler’s advice was encouraging. Even small changes such as adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet and taking a daily walk can make a big difference in your health, he advised.

“You don’t have to do anything too drastic,” he said. “Just go for a walk and watch what you eat. Losing just five or 10 pounds will lower your blood pressure a couple of points.”

Cutting down on processed foods, simple carbs and red meat and replacing them with vegetables and whole grains can help people avoid diabetes, a disease that greatly increases the risk of cardiovascular problems.

In addition to consulting with Dr. Waxler, staff and guests were able to assess their risk for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke by participating in Penn State Health St. Joseph’s HEALTH4cast screening program.

Using simple tests and procedures, staff is able to provide participants with four critical numbers that aid in predicting future health. Numbers are: body mass index, blood pressure, total cholesterol and blood sugar/glucose.

Together, those numbers indicate a person’s risk factor for developing a major illness that could negatively impact life.

Once the numbers have been collected, HEALTH4cast participants receive recommendations for improving their health with lifestyle changes such as cutting back on sodium intake, losing weight, reducing stress and exercising more.

Brenda Rivera of Wyomissing braved the cold to take advantage of the HEALTH4cast program.

With a family history of high blood pressure and diabetes, Rivera was grateful for the opportunity to have her health assessed.

“I don’t see my primary care provider on a regular basis, but I want to take care of myself,” Rivera said. “So, it’s really nice to have this screening as a resource. It’s a great event, and it’s all free.”

Haley Fidler, who works with cardiac rehab patients at Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Spring Ridge campus, was on hand to tell participants about the hospital’s FIT150 Program.

“It’s basically an initiative we have to encourage people to get 150 minutes of exercise a week,” Fidler said. “Exercising for 30 minutes, five days a week, is an easy way for people to keep track of their fitness.”

If you are ready to kick off the spring with a free health evaluation and take the FIT150 pledge, mark your calendar and join us for our next HEALTH4cast event on Saturday, April 6 from 8am – 11am! HEALTH4cast is proud to be a part of the 2nd Annual BCIU Apple a Day 5k & Family Fun Run/Walk to benefit the United Way of Berks County at Penn State Berks. Attendees will be served on a first come, first served basis. And remember no need to fast!

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