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Ohio State students combat heart disease with prevention

Courtesy of MCT

Patty Roberts was inspired to teach others about heart healthiness and raise awareness about heart disease after three of her grandparents had heart bypass surgeries.
February, American Heart Month, is a time when Roberts and many others are especially aware of the importance of heart health.
“I don’t want to be on that path to heart disease, and I don’t want other people to be. They didn’t know about (heart disease) when my grandparents were young,” said Roberts, a second-year graduate student in pharmacy.
Heart disease kills about 630,000 people a year, according to the American Heart Association.
“Heart disease, including stroke, is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States,” said Dr. Martha Gulati, director of preventive cardiology and women’s cardiovascular health at the Wexner Medical Center, in an email.
Heart disease encompasses a variety of medical concerns, including diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, stroke and high cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association. Roberts works through the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists to raise heart disease awareness. She said it is important to raise awareness, especially about high blood pressure, because many people don’t realize how serious this and other types of heart disease can be.
“Raising awareness about high blood pressure and taking care of yourself is important because people don’t understand that it is a disease and it can have future problems,” Roberts said. “When you have high blood pressure, you can’t really feel it and people don’t take it seriously. You don’t feel sick so people don’t think it’s a big deal.”
Prevention means taking steps to a healthy lifestyle and being aware of unhealthy habits that can lead to heart disease.
“Prevention is the best way to fight cardiovascular disease,” Gulati said in the email.
Gulati recommends walking to class instead of taking a bus, drinking water over sugary drinks, exercising at least three times a week for an hour and choosing healthy dining options.
Bad health habits create problems that last a lifetime, Roberts said. “Try to take time to exercise.”
Some students around Ohio State try to follow these suggestions and maintain healthy lifestyles.
Chris Wityk, a first-year in marketing, said he exercises because he thinks about what would happen if he did not maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“My grandpa had a heart attack four years ago and he’s not the same,” Wityk said. “He used to smoke. Now he doesn’t like to travel, and (my family) watches him.”
While heart disease is still the leading cause of death in America, Gulati said success is measured by the strength, achievements and survival of patients with heart disease.
Both the Wexner Medical Center and the College of Pharmacy kicked off American Heart Month with National Wear Red Day through the American Heart Association. Wear Red Day encourages people around the country to wear red clothing to start the month, raise awareness and advocate for heart health. The Wexner Medical Center and the College of Pharmacy also have programs installed throughout the month to raise awareness on campus and throughout the community.

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