Organizations partner to save a million hearts

Nearly 70 organizations, including the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, are collaborating with Million Hearts, a national initiative that plans to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

The Million Hearts initiative aims to improve access to effective care and focus clinical attention on prevention of heart attacks and strokes, according to its website.

Heart disease is a wide range of health issues affecting the heart. It consists of hypertension, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease.

Ernest Hoffman, a physician at Florida A&Ms Student Health Services clinic, said heart disease gradually accumulates over the years and may be disregarded early on.

It is often not appreciated until its far advanced, Hoffman said. It doesnt present with many symptoms, and many times those symptoms are overlooked.

Symptoms include occasional pains, discomfort of the chest, shortness of breath with exertions, the occurrence of headaches and palpitations.

All of those are symptoms that can be contributed to other causes but may indicate underlying heart disease with fatalistic consequences, Hoffman said.

As of 2010, heart disease and stroke were the first and third leading causes of death among African-Americans respectively, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The risk factors of heart disease are physical inactivity, alcohol consumption, obesity, smoking and dietary patterns. Other conditions include high blood pressure and low blood cholesterol. Some of these traits may be hereditary.

Students can visit the Student Health Services clinic to get their vital signs checked, which includes blood pressure, temperature and pulse.

Just through that little screening process, we will find some students that have elevated blood pressure and then direct them into the appropriate therapy for that, Hoffman said.

Brian Ringpfiel, a nutrition educator in the Department of Campus Recreation, said nutrition and diet play an essential role in the preventative methods of heart disease and other health issues.

Ringpfiel said fruits and vegetables can lower calories and reduce sodium consumption. He added that eating more natural foods and a lot less refined foods will help with a variety of health concerns.

If youre preparing your foods in a less healthy way, over time, thats going to take [a] toll on your body, he said. That is where we are seeing some of these issues, just an unhealthy preparation of foods over time.

Ringpfiel said students who come to the recreation center will be able to work with trainers to create an exercise program and he would then help to design a nutritional schedule.

According to a study conducted by the American Heart Association, there is a strong correlation between people with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Diabetics are susceptible to contracting diabetic heart disease.

Autumn Harris, a senior social work student from Tampa, Fla., is a type 1 diabetic. Harris, 22, was diagnosed with the disease when she was 10.

Being diabetic, I feel like everything is at a high risk, she said. Because our immune system[s] are so low, anything can cause anything to us.

However, Harris is optimistic about her health and feels that she has nothing to worry about as long as she continues to live a healthy lifestyle.

You have to be responsible for your life, she said. If I take care of myself, no stress, no nothing, then my heart will be fine.

For more information on the Million Hearts initiative, visit, and for more information about heart disease prevention, visit