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Heart Health

The Treadmill Stress Test is just one way to evaluate a patient's heart condition.February, the “month of love,” is also “Heart Health Month,” medically speaking. Since 25.4% of all deaths in the USA today are caused by heart disease (our nation’s number one killer), it’s worth a closer look. Information for this article was gathered from the American Heart  Association,, and includes expertise from WHC’s visiting Cardiologist Dr. Stan Diede and Paramedic Felicia Huber Sampson.

Dr. Diede, WHC’s visiting cardiologist, comes to Wishek once a month to help our communities’ hearts stay healthy. Although he says Midwesterners often have fewer blood vessel problems than they do in other parts of the country, he still sees the most common forms of heart disease every day: heart attacks, high blood pressure, heart failure, arrhythmia, and high cholesterol. Although some people are more prone to heart disease based on daily health decisions, Dr. Diede encourages the following ways to be proactive about reducing your risk of heart disease: 
1. Give up/Don’t start smoking. Smokers have a 70 percent higher death rate from coronary artery disease than nonsmokers. The act of smoking causes a buildup of fatty substances in the arteries, which can lead to coronary
heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Visit the “Quit Smoking” page for more resources.
2. Monitor your diet. What we eat affects the ease at which our blood pumps through our body. Eating saturated fats, salty foods, and high sugar content can build up blockage in our arteries and veins, hindering the flow of blood to and from the heart. Visit the “Nutrition Center” at or call (701) 452-2326 to schedule a consultation with the WHC’s dietitian Kathy Imdieke to start your dieting plan to ensure healthy blood flow.
3. Regular physical exercise. We have the ability to make our heart stronger or weaker. It doesn’t have to be running or lifting weights, but engaging in physical activity for 30 minutes a day can strengthen your heart and blood flow. The American Heart Association encourages walking for exercise and includes walking plans at The WHC staff encourages membership of their own or other workout facilities in the community.
  Although the assumption is that heart disease runs in the family through genetics, Dr. Diede argues that heart disease is due more from nurture versus nature. “It’s more familial habits and the environment that you are raised in than if someone in your family had an issue with heart disease,” says Dr. Diede.  In light of this, if there are family heart problems, he recommends being more careful with controlling the risk factors so as not to fall in the same line. Healthy lifestyles as adults start with the education and examples children see in the home. Teaching children about how to implement activity and healthy choices early can reduce the risk of heart problems in their future. 
  The WHC offers a cardiac rehabilitation program that uses exercise to recondition as well as monitor the heart after a heart episode. Requirements to being admitted into the  cardiac rehab program are for patients who have had a heart attack, open-heart surgery, or a stent placement and have an official order from a cardiologist, NP, PA, or a doctor. 
   Patients with heart problems may have minimal symptoms and steady heart activity while at rest; however, symptoms and signs of heart conditions may come to the surface under the stress of exercise. The WHC performs a “stress test” using a treadmill and lexiscan for patients that show signs of heart problems including chest pain, shortness of breath, and a strong family history of heart disease. 
  The treadmill stress test monitors a patient’s heart rate through electrodes placed on the patient’s body while they run or walk on the treadmill. The adenosine stress test is used on patients who are physically unable to exercise or who didn’t reach their target heart rate during the treadmill stress test. Through an IV, the patient is given a medication called adenosine that opens up the arteries to allow for an easier blood flow.

Heart attacks are often the scariest form of heart disease because of their suddenness and 
fatal effects. Below are the most common signs of a heart attack:
• Discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
• Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, shoulders, back (for mainly women), neck, jaw or stomach.
• Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
• All of these symptoms may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
• Note that diabetics often do not show these same symptoms and should have their heart checked regularly by their medical provider.


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