How’s your heart doing, Valentine?

MD-February heart health month-Chili_2x

Dorchester Banner/Gloria Rojas
A chili cook-off proved that heart-healthy chili can be prepared without a lot of sodium or sugar and be delicious.

CAMBRIDGE — February is the traditional American Heart Month, but by mid-month, heart-shaped Valentine cards and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate have had their day. Time now to focus on what kind of shape your heart is in.

Sally Worm, program manager of Cardio-Rehab at Dorchester and Easton hospitals says, “Heart Disease is the # 1 killer of both men and women in the U.S. but this country still does not take it seriously.” The Cardio Pulmonary Fitness and Wellness center at University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Dorchester planned special week-long activities to spotlight the importance of heart health.

A chili cook-off proved that heart-healthy chili can be prepared without a lot of sodium or sugar and be delicious. The four cook-off entries were judged on color, aroma, consistency, taste, and aftertaste. While nobody got full on small cup samples, Donna Campbell, nurse at the center, says the cook-off was proof that heart-healthy food can be savory.

The center looks like a gym with the latest machines, but abs and pecs are not the vocabulary of this gym. Sally says the purpose of this equipment is to equip the individual with tools to manage Coronary Artery Disease.

Regular exercise is key. What is also special about the center is that it provides a social support network, a team whose statistics are blood pressure, blood sugar and weight, with nurses MaryBeth Linthicum and Donna Campbell as coaches. In that spirit, on the last day of the activities week, everyone wore their favorite team shirt. The Ravens were over-represented.

Many heart patients in Dorchester County are not following through with aftercare. Even some people who have been diagnosed and treated and referred to Cardio- Rehabilitation don’t follow through. Sally says, “Last year we had 42 referrals to Cardio Rehab but only 25 enrolled.” Last week, the 17 missing patients might have gotten a “chili” reception.

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