Drs. Kevin O'Brien and Eugene Yang share knowledge on how to maintain a healthy heart during the Whole U's Healthy Heart Panel, in association with the American Heart Association.

In association with The Whole U, the Heart Institute and the American Heart Association hosted a Healthy Heart Panel in August, allowing patients and attendees alike to get up close and personal with those who know your heart best. From the Heart Institute, Kevin O’Brien, MD and Eugene Yang, MD were joined by UW Medicine Nutritionist Kristine M. Carlson, MS, RD, CD, CNSC, and Laura Vanderpool whom’s life was saved via bystander CPR.

Eugene Yang, MD, MS, FACC
Eugene Yang, MD, MS, FACC
Dr. Yang kicked off the panel with a presentation on the ABCDE’s of Prevention. Beginning with a briefing of the updated ACC/AHA Prevention Guidelines, Yang delve into common risk factors such as cigarettes and diabetes, along with as diet/weight optimization and working in exercise into daily life routines. Using examples from his own patient experiences, in conjunction with research work done in other countries, the presentation was the perfect introduction into the discussion.

Kevin O'Brien, MD, FAHA
Kevin O'Brien, MD, FAHA
Dr. O’Brien followed shortly after, advocating on how heart attacks and strokes are equal opportunity diseases, and what we can do to promptly recognize the symptoms when we see them.Opening the eyes for the audience, O’Brien’s strong focus on acting quickly and following the FAST (Face Drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech, Time to Call 9-1-1) model to help identify strokes gave the audience something to easily take home and look out for.

Kristine Carlson was able to bring in her nutrition expertise, as audience members took advantage of the panel platform to delve into fad diets and what it truly means to eat healthy. Tips such as keeping fruit where you can see it, and the “plate method” in which one fills at least 50% of their plate with colorful fruits and veggies made healthy eating not seem as hard as some may perceive it to be. The word “moderation” kept appearing in the conversation, with Carlson easing the audience’s worries that it’s okay to enjoy a bit of sweets here and there.

The individual presentations closed with Laura Vanderpool’s own stroke experience, and how she finds balance today. While Laura is quite active, and maintains a healthy diet, that didn’t stop her main artery from becoming 90% blocked on a routine bike ride with a friend. She fell from her bike, and went into sudden cardiac arrest. Thankfully, another rider who had recently received his EMT certification a week before, was able to perform CPR right away and until medics arrived. Though Laura’s family history shows records of high cholesterol, her healthy lifestyle had doctors thinking she would be at low risk. If anything, this goes to show heart issues can strike anyone, as she hoped attendees go out and learn CPR to be the resource one may need to live.

The remaining time was left for questions from the audience, ranging from how much exercise should they maintain, to which oil should we use while cooking. Closing remarks encouraged attendees to participate in the upcoming Puget Sound Heart and Stroke Walk, a fundraiser dedicated to helping scientists develop lifesaving breakthroughs. The American Heart Association is hosting the walk, with UW Medicine sponsoring and a number of UW Medicine teams participating in the event as well.

To sign up for the walk or for more information on how you can help, please visit the fundraising home page.

We’d like to thank all of the panel speakers and the Whole U for making this event possible, as well as the attendees for contributing to the compelling conversation.