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February Heart Health Month

February 2023 - American Heart Month

For Alaskans, February is a very important month. Our community is slowly waking up from our winter slumber! We celebrate Fur Rondy, the Iron Dog, hunting draw permits come out, and we notice more daylight as we drive home after work. Our winter months are mostly behind us! We are able to fill our weekends with more outdoor activities and we celebrate our loved ones on Valentines day. Speaking of loved ones, February is also American Heart Month.

It can seem like every day has a theme, a month or a week for everything. So it can be refreshing to acknowledge that President Lyndon B Johnson was the one to proclaim the first American Heart month back in 1963. This federally designated time encourages us to focus on our heart health with our families and our community. It’s been recognized for 60 years! Since cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally, we thought it more than appropriate to also recognize heart month.

This February, Valley Imaging staff renewed our CPR certifications! All staff members now have the most updated training in CPR and have resources to help our community. During our course, we learned the best way to give back is to educate! We want to encourage our community to take charge and learn how to perform high quality CPR. We want you to be ready if you ever need to. We used a local business, Tundra Medical Training to educate our staff because we are all about supporting our locals! They offer courses in beginner CPR all the way to EMT certifications. While our staff may be prepared to take care of a medical emergency, we don’t want to have to! That’s why we want to share with you our capabilities in screening exams for heart health. Let’s try to prevent a medical emergency.

Image from CPR Course, Valley Imaging staff and instructor from Tundra Medical

One great way to screen for any signs of CVD (cardiovascular disease) is a coronary calcium scoring exam, or heart scoring scan. Since we have moved into our new building, we can now offer these types of CT scans. A calcium scoring exam is a very low dose and focused exam that images the heart, and evaluates the amount of calcium that might be built up in our arteries. These exams are best done when you are relaxed because we scan the heart in between beats. So try to come in before that first cup of coffee! They are under 30 minutes of your time and involve our patients laying on the CT table for around 15 minutes. Having a coronary calcium scoring exam can help your provider find calcium or plaque buildup before you have any symptoms. This helps us learn if we need to care for our heart in another way or make changes to our diet, stress, medication, or other lifestyle habits. Other heart exams we commonly perform are echocardiograms.

Echocardiograms are also real time imaging of your heart, however these are performed with an ultrasound machine. Ultrasound allows us to capture the movement of your heart while it pumps. Similar to our calcium scoring exams, we want you before you caffeinate. If you haven't had an ultrasound before, it involves a cardiac sonographer using a hand-held wand placed over your heart. This wand uses high-powered sound waves to acquire images of the heart valves and movement of your heart. These painless exams last around 30 minutes and after holding nice and still you can continue on with the rest of your day, and drink that coffee!

Screening exams are becoming more popular, with an increase in work towards preventative care. So this February we encourage you to take charge of your cardiovascular health and ask your provider today if you are a candidate for a heart/cardiac screening exam. If you are, come visit us! See our brand new facility, and say hi to our friendly staff. This is a great time to educate yourself and your family, take a CPR class, check on your heart health and enjoy the remainder of our winter in Alaska! We’d love to take care of you and help with your heart health!

Written by, Kayla Binggeli


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