Ron Pullen said he ignored warning signs leading to a heart attack and open heart surgery in 2005. Pullen, now back at work at Heartland Cares Clinic as a patient care coordinator, said fellow black Americans should visit events like Western Baptist Hospital's free screening on Aug. 4 to determine if they are at risk, learn warning signs and understand lifestyle changes that could prevent cardiovascular disease.
Western Baptist Hospital will offer two free events to promote health in children and black Americans.
Dr. Patrick Withrow, chief medical officer at WBH, said the community is invited to a free screening for cardiovascular health on Aug. 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. The screenings are part of observations of Emancipation Day. Withrow said black Americans face a greater risk statistically of heart and vascular disease. Without access to early detection and care, heart and vascular disease can be fatal.
“We know African Americans tend to have higher blood pressure. We estimate as many of 40 percent have hypertension. This puts them at risk for heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease,” Withrow said.
Withrow attributed the higher risk to diets often high in fats, cholesterol, calories and salt. Combined with a genetic tendancy toward diabetes, this diet is a major risk factor. Withrow added other factors placing black Americans at risk for cardiovascular disease include higher rates of obesity, greater use of tobacco products and less access to nutritional and wellness education. Physicians from the WBH hospitalist program will be on hand to answer questions and explain test results.
“We’ll be screening blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, EKG rhythms and some study of blood passage through the carotid artery to assess stroke risk. All tests are free and no fasting is required,” Withrow said. “Education and screening is aimed at curbing rates of cardiovascular disease. Anyone interested in the importance of heart health and learning risk factors should consider going.”
Ron Pullen, 55, said he had open heart surgery in 2005. He said he believes screenings and education at events like WBH’s save lives.
“The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of symptoms and risks prior to having a heart attack,” Pullen said. “I had a heart attack and didn’t pay attention to warning signs and what else was going on.”
Pullen said a combination of family history, being a black man, and having hypertension made his risk greater. He encouraged everyone to maintain a relationship with his or her doctor and to discuss anything that doesn’t seem right.
Dr. Jeffery Mudd discussed a second free event at WBH. The annual Childbirth Fair will be Aug. 13 from 10 a.m. to noon. The event promises free information, give aways and raffles and a chance for expectant mothers to meet obstetricians, pediatricians, neonatologists, nurses, child care specialists, nutritionists and breast feeding experts.
“The main advantage is mothers can see our facilities and meet our teams that will care for them and their children,” Mudd said. “We’ll have tours for our Neo-natal ICU, which is especially important as it will allow newborns with some risks to be kept at our hospital with mothers and near families.”
Mudd said last year’s event boasted about 1,200 attendees. His pediatric group, obstetricians and other practices will be on hand to answer questions from expecting mothers and explain what they offer and what some mothers could expect.
“We’ll be talking about routine newborn care, immunizations and be available for questions,” Mudd said.