Education combats global killer

By Jordan Hearne

This week, students can learn how to keep their heart healthy and find out if their cardiovascular health needs improvement.

The Heart Health Fair hosted by Baylor’s Peer Nutrition Educators is from 3-5 p.m. each day this week through Thursday in the McLane Student Life Center lobby. The event is an effort to educate students about heart disease and habits that help the cardiovascular system.

Houston senior and peer nutrition educator Bekka Limon stressed the importance of teaching students when to begin thinking about the condition of their heart. Peer nutrition educators provide free appointments for dietary analysis and daily nutrition planning to students and faculty.

“A lot of people don’t know that when you turn 20, you should start getting your cholesterol levels checked by your doctor,” Limon said.

She said most students turn 20 years old during their sophomore year at college. In response to this, Baylor’s peer nutrition educators want to make students aware that a healthy diet and exercise coupled with education about blood pressure and cholesterol levels can benefit the heart.

The fair was inspired by World Heart Day on Sept. 29, created by the World Heart Federation as a national day dedicated to educating others about cardiovascular disease. At the Heart Health Fair, faculty and students can find information about the American Heart Association’s guidelines for adult heart health. According to the website, there are seven factors that people should monitor in order to keep the heart in good shape, including weight control, cholesterol control and a healthy diet. Other factors include staying active, managing blood pressure, reducing blood sugar and avoiding cigarette smoke.

Limon said she hopes knowledge gained from visiting the Heart Health Fair table will help to prevent future cardiovascular problems.

“Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans today,” Limon said. “We hope that students and faculty that stop by will gain more information on how to take care of their heart and if they are a student, start getting their cholesterol levels checked on a yearly basis.”

Students can monitor their body’s changes and cholesterol levels at the health center on the second floor of the Student Life Center.

Sharon Stern, medical director of Baylor Health Services, said students can get their cholesterol checked by scheduling an appointment, and it’s best to come in the morning after fasting, starting at midnight before the appointment. Stern said the health center can also check students’ blood pressure anytime during clinic hours without an appointment.

While most students are at a young age for major heart problems, being aware of the risks of heart disease and learning helpful tips can be beneficial.

“Most college students have excellent cardiovascular health unless they have certain inherited diseases,” Stern said. “The best thing students can do is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and handle stress in an appropriate way.”

There are also the option of setting up nutritional education sessions through Peer Nutrition Education, and meetings can work around the student’s schedule. Appointments can be set up by calling the Peer Nutrition Education office at (254) 710-7537, or by visiting their office on the third floor of the SLC, room 305.