HEART HEALTH: Hancock Health promotes $49 heart scans, renovated cath lab as part of Heart Month

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The catherization lab at Hancock Regional Hospital was renovated in 2023, which officials say provides a smoother experience for patients.

Submitted photos

HANCOCK COUNTY – Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but the care providers at Hancock Regional Hospital in Greenfield have been focused on matters of the heart all month long.

February is American Heart Month, a designation recognized each year for the past 57 years, ever since President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first proclamation in 1964.

At the time, Johnson was among the millions of people in the country who had suffered a heart attack.

American Heart Month was designed to shine the national spotlight on heart disease, the number one killer of Americans.

While it’s not nearly as warm and fuzzy as the heart talk related to Valentine’s Day, local healthcare providers say it’s an essential conversation.

“It’s such an important thing to express to the community,” said Angie Miller, director of cardiovascular services and pain management at Hancock Regional Hospital.

While heart health is promoted all year along, the hospital has put a special emphasis on promoting heart health and services throughout the month of February.

“In short, our focus has been taking care of your heart health, from physical exercise to changing your diet, and encouraging the community to get a heart scan regularly,” said Jason Wells, Hancock Health’s executive director of outpatient services.

Hancock Health offers $49 heart scans, which can be self-scheduled year-round without a referral at Parkway Imaging Center and Gateway Immediate Care center.

“It is going to tell you the amount of plaque or hardness of your arteries,” said Miller, who highly recommends getting the test done.

“One of the things we always say is ‘Know your numbers.’ Know your cholesterol numbers, know your blood pressure. Get them checked regularly so you can keep an eye on them,” she said.

High cholesterol and blood pressure can lead to cardiac issues that could prove fatal, she said, so early prevention is key.

Wells said about 500 people come to Hancock Health for a $49 heart screening each year.

The catherization lab at Hancock Regional Hospital was renovated in 2023, which officials say provides a smoother experience for patients. Submitted photos

“One of the really cool things is you can buy a gift certificate to encourage somebody to get a heart scan. Sometimes when a loved one encourages you, it’s a great gentle reminder to take care of their health,” he said.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease continues to be the greatest health threat to Americans and is the leading cause of death worldwide.

The association shared that nearly 18.6 million people across the globe died of cardiovascular disease in 2019 – the latest year for which worldwide statistics are calculated – a 17.1% increase over the past decade.

Over 523 million cases of cardiovascular disease were reported in 2019, a 26.6% increase over 2010.

The association states that in most cases, heart disease is preventable by adopting a healthy lifestyle, which includes not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood sugar and cholesterol, treating high blood pressure, getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week and getting regular checkups.

Wells said Hancock Health is equipped with all the services and specialists necessary to help people make and maintain those healthy lifestyle changes.

Earlier this week, the cardiac team spoke at the monthly meeting for the county’s Emergency Medical Services team, which consists of about 30 members from around the county.

Wells shared with them the level of cardiac services available at the local hospital.

“We have St. Vincent cardiologists here, some of the most renowned in the Midwest,” said Wells, adding that the hospital’s partnership with St. Vincent Heart Center began in 2017.

“It’s really nice to have those doctors here in our building who not only interact with patients on a daily basis but who also do noninvasive cardiac services like echocardiograms. They interpret our EKGs and see patients for invasive cardiac care procedures,” he said.

Wells also touted the hospital’s recently-renovated catheterization lab, which had a big overhaul in 2023.

A cath lab is equipped with diagnostic imaging equipment used to assess the arteries and chambers of the heart.

Wells said patients are often sent to the lab to assess their heart health before undergoing surgical procedures.

Last year’s lab renovation made a huge impact on the facility, which was first added on in 1993.

“It’s all state-of-the-art equipment now,” said Wells. “Basically, we’ve enhanced the technology and made it significantly easier for the cardiologist to know who needs intervention and what needs fixed in the heart.”

Both he and Miller stressed the importance of making healthy lifestyle changes to foster heart health.

If a heart attack does occur, they stressed that the best thing to do is stay in place and call 911.

“If someone starts having chest pains and shortness of breath and they start worsening, do not have someone drive you to the hospital. Call 911,” said Miller.

“We just saw a really bad outcome last week. It’s very important for everyone to know to call 911 rather than drive yourself,” she said.

Wells pointed out that the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest decreases over 10 percent every minute that CPR is not started.

“Even if you’re just a short drive from the hospital, that trip can decrease your chance of not coming back,” he said. “Calling 911 increases your chance of survival.”

For more information on heart health and steps you can take to improve it, visit the American Heart Association’s website at heart.org.

Call Hancock Health Network Navigation at 317-468-4600 to schedule.