Safe Heart Screening Helps Shed Light on Mississippi's Health Woes

By: Ashley Conroy Email
By: Ashley Conroy Email

Heart attack and stroke are often called the silent killers, because they can strike with no warning. A group out of Hattiesburg, called the Safe Heart Health Screens, is trying to change this.

They travel around the state to administer a series of 5 tests that check for anything from aneurysms to clogged arteries.

"When they come to us and have these five screens, they're getting something that they can't just go to their doctor and say I want to have all five of these screens done," said Safe Heart Technician Susan Myrick.

Robert Wilson walked into the Safe Heart Screening to be proactive about this health.

His great aunt died suddenly of an aneurysm. Wilson says she had no idea anything was wrong.

"And all of a sudden one morning, she had an aneurysm in her stomach and she died," said Wilson. "She died instantly on the spot."

The American Heart Association reports that Mississippi ranks number one in the nation for death from heart attack and stroke.

It also reports that 50 percent of all heart attacks and 80 percent of stroke victims have no warning.

Dr. Charles O'Mara from Baptist Medical Hospital says there are ways to minimize the risk of becoming a statistic.

"Primarily life style considerations, like healthy diet, maintaining a satisfactory weight, treatment of high blood pressure," O'Mara said.

That's one reason why Wilson says he wants to change his lifestyle.

"So now I'm in the process of working out and trying to get myself back, at least half way, the way I used to be," Wilson said.

These screenings are also part of a state-funded Medicaid program where any Medicaid recipient in Mississippi can receive this screening for free.

This program will last through Safe Heart Health Screening until December 31, 2010.

However, for others the screening would cost $129. This group is coming back to the Jackson Medical Mall June 18.

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