Saving one heart at a time, Sandy Wells and Alicia Roberts are on a mission to make the community healthier and prevent heart disease.
“Everyone is looking for the health care system to solve the problem, but it starts with the individual,” Wells said.
Sandy Wells is the Cardiac Rehab Programmer for the Liberty Regional Medical Center. She has been with LRMC for the last 33 years.
Alicia Roberts was once Wells’ patient after suffering from a dilated cardiomyopathy and heart failure. After graduating from the program she was inspired to start a WomenHeart group in Liberty County in February 2018.
“Eighty percent of heart disease is preventable,” Wells said. “It takes years to develop heart disease.”
According to heart.org, cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program designed to improve your cardiovascular health if you have experienced a heart attack, heart failure, and angioplasty or heart surgery.
Here in Liberty County, Wells is dedicated to bringing awareness about preventive measures one could take to lower their chances of battling the disease.
The cardiac rehab program at LRMC uses functional tests to gage how you’re heart is performing. They also screen for depression which can often occur with heart disease.
“My goal is to decrease risky lifestyles and advise people if they want to live longer, they have to exercise, drink water, and make better food choices.” Wells said.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoking, and being physically inactive are just a few of the risk factors for heart disease according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
One surprising risk factor for heart disease among women is having a history of preeclampsia during pregnancy.
Due to the cardiac output increasing 30 to 40 percent during pregnancy, the heart has to work harder according to clevelandclinic.org.
“Everyone is susceptible to heart disease, and that’s why we’re trying to set up projects in schools,” Wells said. “If you get the kids involved, you can also get adults involved.”
Partnered with the WomenHeart group in Liberty County, both Wells and Roberts are looking for volunteers to help promote their mission and raise money to put free water in schools.
“The biggest thing is increasing awareness about heart disease being the number one killer in America and the numbers aren’t going to get better,” Wells said. “You may not be able to change one risk factor but you can start on one.”