After Jay Bouwmeester’s recent cardiac episode, heart health is especially on the minds of St. Louis Blues fans. February was Heart Health Awareness month, making the issue a prominent focus of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. The Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University Heart and Vascular Center teamed with the St. Louis Blues this Feb., selling limited-edition shirts in order to fund the supply of AEDs for organizations in need throughout St. Louis. Marc R. Moon, MD, Section Chief of Cardiac Surgery, made appearances on FOX Sports Midwest and KMOX this Feb. to promote heart health and address the St. Louis community’s questions.
What is an AED?
“An AED is an automated external defibrillator,” Moon says. This device was used to stabilize Bouwmeester after his collapse. “On TV we always see people being shocked in the emergency room,” Moon explains, “but it’s actually a device that can be used by anyone, anytime, anywhere, and it can save a life.”
Who Can Use an AED?
When someone is having a heart attack, it is important to act fast. With over 800 thousand heart attacks in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, it is vital that AEDs are available for quick action. “If there is an AED available and it is used in the first 3-5 minutes, 90-95% of those patients will survive,” Moon states. AEDs are commonly found in high-traffic areas of buildings. They are designed to be easy to use, even for someone with no medical training or experience. Moon describes the simplicity of using an AED, saying: “Open the box, hit the button, and it tells you exactly what to do.”
Who is at Risk for Heart Disease?
Bouwmeester’s cardiac episode was what Moon would describe as “exceedingly rare.” It is uncommon for an otherwise healthy individually with no symptoms or family history to experience that kind of sudden collapse. Parents of student athletes might worry that their children could be at risk, but Moon’s response is that it is unlikely. Common symptoms of heart disease include shortness of breath and chest pain. Moon advises anyone who is concerned to visit their primary care doctor, who can run the necessary tests to gauge the risk of heart disease.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Heart Disease?
“Stop smoking,” Moon says. He also advises patients to actively manage high blood pressure and diabetes. “Get exercise,” Moon suggests. “It doesn’t have to be heart-pounding, sweat-producing exercise. Walk the dog.” Diet is another important part of heart health. Moon recommends eating fish, beans and leafy green vegetables. “You can even have a glass of wine,” Moon offers, “and for desert, finish it off with dark chocolate. The darker, the better.” While taking preventative measures and being prepared to react in an emergency are important, Moon also wants to remind people not to burden themselves with worry. Moon, who passionately promotes heart health awareness, says: “Get out there. Live life. Just be aware.”