Since 1964, the United States has observed February as American Heart Month, taking aim at heart disease, the leading cause of death in the country.

During American Heart Month, Regional West’s Cardiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation Departments join with the American Heart Association (AHA) in raising awareness about heart disease and how to prevent it.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S., with one in every three deaths related to cardiovascular disease,” said Regional West Medical Center-Rehab Center Cardiac Rehab Care Coordinator Sheree Verbeck, RN, BSN. “The primary goal of cardiac rehabilitation is to enable participants to achieve their optimal physical, psychological, and social functioning through exercise training and lifestyle change.”

Verbeck added that the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, (AACVPR), in which Regional West Cardiac Rehab is accredited, notes that recent scientific studies show that people who complete a cardiac rehabilitation program can increase their life expectancy by up to five years.

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In most cases, heart disease is preventable when people adopt a healthy lifestyle, which includes not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood sugar and cholesterol, treating high blood pressure, getting regular exercise, and having regular checkups.

“Cardiac rehab is so much more than just an exercise program,” said Regional West Medical Center-Rehab Center Cardiac Rehab Care Coordinator Kelsey Judy, RN, BSN. “It is a multidisciplinary team working together to create an individualized plan for each patient to improve their health and quality of life. Supervised classes include aerobic activity that improves strength and energy, diet and nutrition counseling, medication knowledge building, aid in smoking cessation, stress reduction, and emotional support. Throughout this process we strive to have some fun, making these changes easier.”

For more ideas and simple steps you can use every day for better heart health, visit Join the American Heart Association’s national movement in support of healthier communities and healthier lives.

Cardiology consultations and risk assessment are available at Regional West in cooperation with Colorado Health Medical Group by calling 308-630-2626.

The Heart Center at Regional West, which offers a comprehensive range of cardiac and lung care services, can be reached at 308-630-1337.

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