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Heart health heralded tribalwide

Brighton residents Cierra Baker, Amber Craig, Shyla Jones and Andrea Holata join Health Department staff members Terri Anquoe, Lance Vaz and Kai Setty for a heart healthy walk behind the Florida Seminole Veterans Building Feb. 4.
Brighton residents Cierra Baker, Amber Craig, Shyla Jones and Andrea Holata join Health Department staff members Terri Anquoe, Lance Vaz and Kai Setty for a heart healthy walk behind the Florida Seminole Veterans Building Feb. 4.

Since 1964, February has been designated American Heart Month to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease, the No. 1 killer of Americans, including Native Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association.

Throughout the month, the Seminole Health Department sponsored tribalwide events focused on heart health. Wear Red Day photos, walks, blood pressure checkups and education made Tribal citizens and employees mindful of heart health.

The Seminole Pathways Wellness Program also helps participants stay healthy year-round with 5K walks and pedometer competitions.

“We’ve seen good outcomes with our programs,” said Brighton health educator Terri Anquoe. “We want to make it fun and interesting to keep the enthusiasm and motivation going, which helps them make lasting lifestyle changes.”

A report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health found that Native Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than their white counterparts. Risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, obesity and cigarette smoking, are more prevalent among Native Americans than whites.

“We try to spread the word that heart disease is the leading killer and is often overlooked,” said Hollywood health educator Lauren Goas. “We give everyone the opportunity to get fit and get the education they need to protect their hearts.”

Goas said the three most important ways to improve heart health are exercising, eating a heart-healthy diet low in fat and sodium and quitting smoking. Inactivity, eating non-nourishing fried and fast foods, smoking and heavy alcohol consumption contribute to heart disease, she said.

Some find individual ways to keep fit and healthy outside the formal programs. For 20 years, Brighton Councilman Andrew J. Bowers Jr. has watched what he eats and exercises regularly.

“I stay away from heavy food and jog every weekend,” he said. “When I’m traveling I’ll sneak in a few situps in the hotel.”

After a brisk walk in Brighton, a heart conscious group dressed in red enjoyed a healthy picnic lunch behind the Florida Seminole Veterans Building.

“Exercise makes you feel good, gives you positive energy and is good for the spirit,” Anquoe said.

Although cardiovascular disease kills more Americans than anything else, steps can be taken to reduce the risk and improve health, Goas said.

“No matter what kind of shape you are in, it’s never too late to start taking care of your health,” she said. “Our bodies are like a machine and the heart is at the center of it. It needs to be taken care of; it is the pump that keeps our bodies going.”

 

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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