The Roundup -

By Tie Shank 

February Proclaimed American Heart Month in North Dakota


Pictured: (front) Amy Davis, Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Jake Douts, (back)Melanie Carvell, Shila Thorson, Krista Fremming, Tom Nehring, Charlie Jeske, Jen Miller, and June Herman.

Governor Jack Dalrymple has proclaimed February 2016 as American Heart Month in North Dakota. In recognition of American Heart Month, the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) continues to raise awareness about the importance of prevention, early detection, and treatment of heart disease.

Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death in the state of North Dakota and in the United States. Every minute counts when someone is having a cardiac emergency. "It is important for individuals to be able to recognize a cardiac emergency, know how to dial 9-1-1 to access first responders immediately, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and have public access to Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)," said Shila Thorson, Stroke and Cardiac Systems of Care Coordinator for NDDoH. The North Dakota Cardiac System recently formed the Cardiac Ready Community program based on these important elements which promote survival from a cardiac event, such as cardiac arrest. Powers Lake was the pilot community for the project and has recently been designated a Cardiac Ready Community by the NDDoH.

One major risk factor for heart disease and stroke is hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 of 3 U.S. adults-or 67 million people-have high blood pressure. Only about half (47%) of these people have their high blood pressure under control. North Dakota's clinical, community, public health and state partners have been collaborating to implement evidence-based practices to identify, control and improve blood pressure.

"Hypertension, the 'silent killer,' often has no signs or symptoms, so many people are unaware they have it. If left undetected and untreated, the condition can cause damage and lead to heart attacks, strokes, and other serious diseases," said Thorson. "The North Dakota Department of Health encourages all adults to have their blood pressure screened as the disease can affect any age group including young adults." The American Heart Association defines normal blood pressure as less than 120/80 mm Hg.

Not all heart disease can be prevented due to uncontrollable risk factors such as age, ethnic background and family history of heart disease. However, simple lifestyle changes such as eating a diet low in fat and salt, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol use can reduce the risk of suffering from heart disease.

For more information, contact Shila Thorson at 701.328.4569 or


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