Hospitals team up for heart health initiative

Hospitals team up for heart health initiative in Feb.

February 13, 2013
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Janet McKee
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Jennifer Antkowiak
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
Jackie Zeni of South Strabane Township relaxes at her home. Jackie had no idea that her artery had a 98 percent blockage and needed surgery. Order a Print
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
Jackie Zeni of South Strabane Township relaxes at her home recently. Jackie had no idea that her artery had a 98 percent blockage and she needed surgery. Order a Print
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
Jackie Zeni of South Strabane Township works on her favorite hobby, scrapbooking, at her home recently. Jackie underwent successful surgery to unblock an artery in her heart after feeling tired and seeing a doctor. Order a Print
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
Carla Golden, left, a respiratory therapist at Mon-Vale HealthPLEX, works with cardiac and pulmonary patients on treadmills. From left are Bob Sharp, Lianne DeFelices, Tom Rapp and Dan Wineland. Order a Print

To bring attention to American Heart Month in February, the three hospitals in Washington County have teamed up for “Go Red, Washington County,” a new county-wide education and awareness effort for women and men.

Canonsburg Hospital, Monongahela Valley Hospital and Washington Health System will each host events at their facilities from 4 to 8 p.m. Feb. 28. Offerings include speakers, screenings, educational demonstrations and giveaways.

The hospitals are also encouraging men and women to wear red clothing this month to promote heart health.

Feb. 1 marked the 10th year of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement, and while significant progress has been made, there is still work ahead.

Consider: Heart disease is still the number one killer of women, killing about 400,000 women each year. Heart disease kills more women than men, at an average rate of one death per minute. And heart disease kills more women than the top three cancers combined.

Jackie Zeni of South Strabane Township knows first-hand the importance of heart health.

In 2009, Zeni, a retired Canon-McMillan elementary school teacher, discovered she had a 99 percent blockage in an artery and had a stent inserted to restore blood flow to the heart.

Zeni, whose father had died of a heart attack at age 55, said she had experienced shortness of breath while walking in her back yard and had felt some “heaviness” in her chest. But she dismissed the symptoms, a mistake many women make.

In Zeni’s case, it was her husband, Tom, who convinced her to stop at MedExpress before she headed to a lunch date – and quite possibly saved her life. The physician who examined Zeni sent her directly to Washington Hospital, where the next morning Dr. Christopher Allen performed the surgery. It turns out, the doctor told Zeni and her husband, that she could have had a stroke at any moment.

“I was fortunate that I did go to the doctor’s. It’s very easy to kind of blow it off, but it really is a silent killer,” said Zeni, who takes medication and baby aspirin every day. “It was a very scary thing.”

Patty Toner, community marketing manager at Canonsburg General Hospital, said women often put the needs of those they love ahead of their own needs. Heart disease is easy to ignore – until it hits. The AHA says that women can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease – including heart attack or stroke – by exercising, eating right, losing weight, avoiding smoking, and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol.

Jamie Ivanac, marketing and communications manager at Washington Hospital, said that adopting a healthier lifestyle is easier said than done, and that’s where the Go Red events at local hospitals can have an impact.

Women and men can find a variety of information andtake advantage of screenings. Go Red, Washington County might be lifesaving for you or someone you love.

Mon Valley Hospital

Registration and free screenings begin at 4 p.m. in the Anthony M. Lombardi Education Conference Center, and KDKA-TV’s Jennifer Antkowiak and Pittsburgh cookbook author Janet McKee will play big roles in the evening.

McKee, a board-certified holistic health counselor, will conduct one of her trademark lively, healthy cooking demonstrations at 4:15 p.m. Samples of McKee’s cooking will be provided after the demonstration.

“For most of us, you need to enjoy the food you are eating to enjoy life,” said McKee, who works with individuals and groups to teach how food and lifestyle choices affect a person’s overall health and well-being. “The key is to understand that there are so many fabulous, delicious and satisfying foods that are extremely good for you, too.”

Also at 4:15 p.m., stress management specialist Amaera Felder will host a stress management program. At 5 p.m., Antkowiak will discuss heart health and conduct Zumba classes and walking demonstrations. Antkowiak has written two self-care books and is a licensed Zumba fitness instructor and a Leslie Sansone Walk at Home walk leader.

At 6 p.m., a panel discussion will convene on heart health issues and panelists include Mon Valley Hospital cardiologist Simon H. Chough; Center for Fitness and Health Director Don Doyle; Cardiac Rehabilitation Supervisor Kenny Furlong; and senior staff physical therapist and Director of the Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease, Randall Komacko.

Screenings, information tables and raffles will continue until 8 p.m.

Canonsburg General Hospital

Educational, fun and informative activities, screenings and demonstrations will be offered at the hospital and the Peters Township Outpatient Care Center.

Cardiologists will be at both locations to discuss heart health, and nutritionists from Canonsburg Hospital are partnering with the Giant Eagle Market District to demonstrate how to shop and eat healthy and how to tweak recipes to make them heart-healthy.

At 6:30 p.m., WTAE news anchor Sally Wiggin will talk about heart health and the impact it has had on her life.

Zumba, tai chi and Reiki classes will be offered.

Ambulance crews and paramedics will be on hand at both locations to discuss their roles in helath emergencies.

“We’re educating people about how they can skew the numbers in their favor,” said Toner. “We want people to go home wiser and with a new resolve to take care of themselves. With early detection, there’s so much you can do.”

Washington Health System

The Healthy Heart Expo will be held at the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center of Washington Health System. It is free and open to the community.

The program features the following heart healthy activities:

4-5 p.m. – Free blood pressure checks and bone density screenings in the wellness center lobby area.

5-6 p.m. – Healthy heart cooking demonstration. Nutritionist Lu Ann Scarton will teach participants to prepare vegetarian meals and provide recipes to take home. Space is limited, so please call 724-225-9355 to reserve your place.

6-7 p.m - Heart healthy expert panel with cardiologist Dr, John Costello Jr.; exercise physiologist Jessica Pieper; nutritionist Lu Ann Scarton; and behavioral educator Sam Anderson. Learn the latest on how nutrition, exercise and a healthier lifestyle can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Presentations will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

7-8 p.m. - Gentle yoga or Zumba class, taught by Dr. Maryann Weinstein. Zumba class will be taught by Studio Fit owner Kate Speer, a

licensed Zumba teacher and certified group exercise instructor.

Pre-registration is suggested but not required, other than for the cooking demonstration. To learn more, visit or call 724-250-5228.

“Go Red Washington County” red gloves and headbands will be available for purchase at all of the hospitals.

Karen Mansfield is an award-winning journalist and mom of five who has been a staff writer for the Observer-Reporter since 1988. She enjoys reading, the Pittsburgh Steelers, a good glass of wine and nice people.

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