Whether yours was struck by Cupid or broken by a significant other, everyone’s hearts tend to get quite the workout in February. In celebration of National Heart Health Awareness Month, which fittingly falls in the amorous month, Cabrini College students, staff and faculty took the opportunity to get in shape.
According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular illnesses account for up to 25 percent of fatalities in the country, making it the number one killer in the United States.
Susan Fitzgerald, RN, Cabrini’s resident nurse and the coordinator of Student Health and Wellness, says there are a number of risks that can increase individuals‘ chances of heart disease. “Knowing family history, not smoking, maintaining normal weight, getting enough exercise and maintaining a healthy cholesterol level are all important to help prevent cardiovascular illness,” Fitzgerald said. “I hope that students, staff and faculty take away that there are a lot of simple things people can do to help prevent heart disease in their lives.”
There are multiple types of heart disease, with most of the more serious illnesses being related to coronary artery disease, as Fitzgerald stated. “Your heart is a muscle, and so it needs oxygenated blood to keep it going,” Fitzgerald said. “Coronary artery disease restricts that flow to the heart muscle. It can be caused by a number of things–high cholesterol, atherosclerosis [the collection of fats along arterial walls], and smoking.”
With the importance of heart health being stressed, the Office of Health and Wellness hosted Go Red for Heart Health Day. Free cholesterol and blood pressure testing was held in the Marketplace. “The cafeteria was decorated in red and the cafeteria food served was heart healthy,” Lindsay Anderson, junior exercise science major, said in an email. “It was a great event.”
Many students have taken it upon themselves to live a healthy lifestyle outside of these events. Danielle Kulich, junior biology pre-med major is just one example. “I go to the gym very often,” Kulich said. “I don’t smoke and I try to drink a lot of water!”
Living healthy isn’t exclusive to Cabrini students. Linda Shikitino, fitness instructor and adjunct faculty member, has been doing so for years. “Honestly it doesn’t even have to do with being a fitness instructor,” Shikitino said in a phone interview. “It’s a way of life.” Shikitino stated that ways students can start leading healthier lives include eating a lowfat diet, not smoking, staying physically active for about an hour a day, avoiding excessive alcohol and getting checkups once a year.
“And being happy,” Skikitino added. “That’s important!”