Programs promote cardiac-care awareness during Heart Month

Originally Published February 10, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated February 8, 2013 at 11:47 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Susan O’Nale, manager of the sleep disorder center at National Park Medical Center, shows a nasal CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) unit in one of the sleep labs.

Know Your Numbers

Mandy Golleher talks about the Know Your Numbers event at National Park Medical Center. (By Rusty Hubbard)
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— Hot Springs residents need to take care of their hearts. So, two organizations dedicated to good health and proper health care are reaching out with aid and information during American

Heart Month in February.

While National Park Medical Center is trying to get local residents to have a greater understanding of their health by “Knowing Their Numbers,” the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, the Family Service Agency of Arkansas and the YMCA are working together to teach people more about taking care of their hearts, by leading the city in a nationwide effort aimed at preventing a million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years.

“Too many men and women in our community are dying from heart disease and stroke,” said Dean Ehrenheim, president and chief executive officer of the YMCA in Hot Springs. “By raising awareness and helping people take simple steps — appropriate aspirin therapy, blood-pressure control, cholesterol management and not smoking — we can all live healthier, more productive lives.”

As part of the national Million Hearts initiative, a health fair will be held at the Hot Springs YMCA at 130 Werner St. on Friday. The event will begin at noon and end at 5:30 p.m. According to the regional prevention resource center for the Family Service Agency in Hot Springs, the health fair will include more than a dozen information booths and a panel of experts, including physicians and pharmacists, providing tips on heart-healthy living.

In addition, yoga and tai chi demonstrations will teach fair participants about the importance of stress reduction. Free health assessments, such as blood-sugar testing, blood-pressure checks and body-mass-index calculations, will be available.

Michelle Murtha of the Arkansas Foundation of Medical Care approached Ehrenheim to help lead the Million Hearts initiative in Hot Springs during American Heart Month.

Another project to help get Hot Springs area residents to take a more active role in their heart health is a free, two-day event at National Park Medical Center called Know Your Numbers.

The event will be held from 7-11 a.m. Feb. 18 and 21 at the medical center on Malvern Avenue.

The hospital program will also offer free health screenings during the event — tests that are vital to understanding one’s health.

“So many heart-health issues go undetected and can significantly worsen because individuals don’t necessarily feel bad,” said Lindsey Cortez, a nurse practitioner at Hot Springs Cardiology Associates. “But taking the proactive steps to know whether you need to improve your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar or BMI is a great way to lower the risk of heart disease, or treat it early if it is detected.”

National Park Medical Center personnel will also provide information about heart-healthy diets, cardiovascular exercise for all fitness levels and the link between how you sleep and heart health.

“Sleeping is the other half of your life,” said Susan O’Nale, manager of the sleep disorder center at the medical center. “When your sleep is disrupted, it can weaken your resistance to disease and other health issues.”

O’Nale said participants in the two-day event will be able to pick up copies of a questionnaire about their sleep health.

“It is a measuring tool for the Epworth Sleepiness Scale that asks a person to rate how likely they are to fall asleep in different situations on a scale of 0 to 3,” she said. “It rates how likely you are to fall asleep while reading or while riding as a passenger or just resting in a public place.”

If you get a score higher than 10, it is a signal to seek medical advice and perhaps have a sleep test. O’Nale said the score could indicate

anything from a bad sleep habit to sleep apnea or narcolepsy.

“You need deep sleep. Like a computer, you need to shut down and reboot for the next day,” she said. “If an adult is not getting the right sleep, they just shrug it off, but you have to treat yourself as a child and prepare for sleep.”

O’Nale said that means leaving off caffeine and alcohol hours before trying to sleep. Don’t get excited about things, but start calming down; then sleep in a quiet, low-light, nonstress environment.

She said sleep testing can also find behaviors, such as teeth grinding, restless legs or other stressful actions, or irregular breathing.

“These are things you don’t know you are doing because you are asleep, but they keep you from resting,” O’Nale said.

The aim of both health fairs is to make sure residents of Hot Springs and Garland County know their personal risk factors for heart disease and stroke so they will be encouraged to adopt heart-healthy behaviors that lower those risks.

For more information about the Friday event at the YMCA or to find out about a year of events promoting healthy living, log on to

It is important that people receiving the assessment tests at the Know Your Numbers event at National Park Medical Center fast after midnight

before the screenings. A breakfast will be served at the event. Individuals must register for the event and will be given an appointment time for screenings. To register, call (501) 620-1402.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or

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