Heart Health Awareness: A February Focus with Andrew Hamer and Melody Knapp of MUSC Health

As February ushers in Valentine’s Day, it’s not just about the love in the air but also about the love we show our hearts. In recognition of Heart Health Month, it’s crucial to spotlight the importance of cardiovascular wellness. Our recent interview with Andrew Hamer, Market Director of Outpatient Cardiopulmonary Services at MUSC Health, sheds light on this critical aspect of health, aligning perfectly with our mission at RetireEase: bringing professional, affordable care to your loved one in their own home and providing you with expert resources to improve your quality of life and peace of mind. RetireEase strives to bring awareness to vital issues affecting our senior adults and provide these resources on our FREE download page located at our website: www.retireease.com/resources

The Role of MUSC in Heart Health and Cardiac Care

MUSC Health stands at the forefront of cardiac care, offering a spectrum of services from prevention to advanced surgeries such as heart transplantation and robotic valve surgery. Their holistic approach encompasses not just treatment but prevention and rehabilitation, ensuring patients return to a quality of life they cherish. 

Melody Knappy elaborates, Our providers obviously speak with the patients about their needs but then also, they refer them to services within our system or in the community to help them learn about their heart health.”

You can find a comprehensive list of MUSC Heart and Vascular services at their website: Heart & Vascular Center: Cardiology | MUSC Health | Charleston, SC

Education and Prevention

Education is the first step in prevention. MUSC’s network of primary care providers and specialists plays a vital role in educating patients on leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, including diet modifications, increased activity levels, and understanding the impact of heart disease. This proactive approach is crucial in preventing the progression of heart conditions.

As Andrew explains, “We should all be trying to get at least two days of strength training in, that doesn’t mean lifting unwieldy weights or anything like that but could be as simple as doing sit stands from a chair or hard surface.  You’d like to incorporate most of your large muscle groups in the training somehow, but definitely a focus on the lower body for sure.  There is a high correlation between a lack of muscle mass, weight training, and falls within the senior population.  By taking the time to strength train, you can improve your balance and hopefully prevent falls or lessen the impact of them.”

 MUSC provides a FREE download on on Heart prevention at: Heart Health Guide (In English & Spanish) | MUSC Health | Charleston SC

Rehabilitative Support

Rehabilitation is a cornerstone of MUSC’s cardiac care, offering patients a second chance at health. The cardiac rehab program emphasizes moderate-intensity exercise, strength training, and education on maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle. This comprehensive care is a testament to the importance of not just treating a condition but nurturing a patient back to wellness.

The guidelines for patients in cardiac rehab is to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise.

 According to Andrew,  “The goal should be to get 30 minutes a day and you can break it up into as small as 10 minute increments and get the same benefit as 30 minutes straight through as long as you still get 30 minutes total for the day.”

The Importance of Regular Check-Ups

Andrew highlights the critical role of regular check-ups in identifying risk factors for heart disease, such as family history and aging. He states, “Consider that as we age, things start to deteriorate such as skin and connective tissue.  What is visibly happening to some extent is happening on the inside of our bodies as well.  Add to that if you have a family history.  I’ve seen marathon runners who had a heart attack in their 40s and I’ve seen people who are rather sedentary live a long healthy life, with the main difference being their genetics or family history.  The only real way to know is to see your primary care doctor and or cardiologist on a regular basis.”

These factors underscore the necessity of proactive health management, especially for seniors who are at a heightened risk for cardiovascular diseases.

Heart Disease is the number 1 leading cause of death in the US.  Risk factors for heart disease are smoking, obesity, lack of activity, gender, age and genetics.  Your age and family history are very significant factors. Consider that as we age, things start to deteriorate such as skin and connective tissue. What is visibly happening to some extent is happening on the inside of our bodies as well. Add to that if you have a family history.  I’ve seen marathon runners who had a heart attack in their 40s and I’ve seen people who are rather sedentary live a long healthy life, with the main difference being their genetics or family history.  The only real way to know is to see your primary care doctor and or cardiologist on a regular basis.

Embracing Technology for Health Monitoring

In today’s digital age, MUSC utilizes electronic medical records and other technologies to monitor and manage patients’ health. This approach ensures seamless communication between patients, rehab specialists, and primary care providers, enhancing the quality of care provided.  Health monitoring allows doctors to have medical devices to keep a constant track on patients’ health from a distance. This is especially important for detecting potential health issues early. For instance, Steve Parrott with RetireEase Senior Services says “In the case of patients suffering a heart condition, monitoring devices can track vital signs like heart rate and blood pressure. RetireEase also embraces a sophisticated software platform, WellSky,  that allows us to document daily records of clients to inform families of changes in health conditions or behaviors.”

A Continuous Journey to Heart Health

The journey to heart health does not end with rehabilitation. MUSC encourages ongoing participation in their maintenance program, offering access to medically trained staff. This long-term support is crucial in maintaining heart-healthy behaviors and preventing future cardiac events. According to Steve Parrott, our RetireEase caregivers support our senior clients’ heart health and post-cardiac patients by following the directed exercise and diet plan of care outlined by their healthcare practitioner. We have an Integrated Care model that allows our care plans to incorporate activity from the client’s medical team to improve overall goals and outcomes of our clients.  Integrated Senior Care | At-Home Health Care Service | RetireEase 

A Commitment to Community and Family

MUSC’s commitment extends beyond the patient to include family education and support, acknowledging the importance of a collective effort in fostering a heart-healthy environment. This holistic approach aligns with RetireEase’s mission of providing comprehensive care, not just to our clients but to their families as well.

Conclusion

As we navigate through February, let’s take this opportunity to prioritize our heart health and that of our loved ones. The insights from our interview with Andrew Hamer underscore the importance of education, preventative measures, and rehabilitative care in maintaining cardiovascular health. At RetireEase, we echo this commitment to health and well-being, ensuring our clients receive the best in-home care possible, focusing on their holistic wellness. Together, let’s make heart health a priority this month and beyond.

Thank you for joining us in this essential conversation about heart health. Remember, taking care of your heart is the best way to show love to yourself and those around you.