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Heart Health Month: Know your risk; get healthy; learn CPR
heart health pic1
First Lady Permanente, LLC instructor Marcus Wagner (left) teaches a cardiopulmonary resuscitation course at the health services training office in Turlock. Students Keidaw Kobbah, Buyi Kubheka (standing in back) and Maura Zychowski practice CPR on mannequins. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

Don't Eat Your Heart Out
A free one-hour program about heart healthy nutrition will be held from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. today in the first floor conference room at the Emanuel Cancer Center, located at 880 E. Tuolumne, Turlock.  Registered Dietitian Barbara Masterson is the featured speaker.  No pre-registration is required. 
 CPR SaturdayAmerican Red Cross volunteers will host cardiopulmonary resuscitation training on March 12, for CPR Saturday, a day-long event designed to offer significantly discounted CPR and AED training to the community. The five CPR Saturday training locations are Stanislaus County Center III, Health Net on Crows Landing Road in Modesto, the Patterson Library, CSU Stanislaus, Turlock Event Center and Oak Valley Medical Plaza in Oakdale. Two Spanish sessions will be held at the Health Net training location.The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the cost is $10 per person. To register or for more information, call 523-6451.

Gilbert Mora has always led an active life. He rides his bike every chance he gets, practices martial arts and, at 71 years of age, still goes to work five days a week.

The long-time Turlock resident also has yearly physical exams with his physician and, even though Mora spent 50 years working as a butcher, he is no stranger to salad.

So Mora was a little surprised when an episode of dizziness turned into a heart attack 10 months ago.

“I was surprised it was a heart attack because I try to take care of myself,” he said.

Mora, like many of the tens of thousands of Americans who suffer a heart attack every year, did not have any chest pain or shortness of breath — two of the most common indicators of heart attack.

Despite his healthy lifestyle, Mora was still at risk for heart attack due to hereditary factors. He is now a family advocate for heart health awareness.

“I tell my boys, you want to end up like me?”

Mora is not the only one encouraging those around him to be more aware of their heart health, as February is American Heart Health Month. Local hospital Emanuel Medical Center has been helping the public get the word out about heart health through social media.

eCards are now available through the hospital’s Facebook page for people to send to their friends and loved ones. The free eCards each contain a heart healthy tip and can be sent via

"The Facebook cards are a fun way people can promote good heart health to their friends and family," said Pennie Rorex, Emanuel's assistant vice president of corporate communication and marketing. "The support of friends and family can really help someone as they make healthy changes in their life."

Heart disease is no laughing matter, as it is the leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of disability. The most common heart disease in the United States is coronary heart disease, which often appears as a heart attack.

In 2010, an estimated 785,000 Americans had a new coronary attack, and about 470,000 had a recurrent attack. About every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and about one every minute will die from one. The chance of developing coronary heart disease can be reduced by taking steps to prevent and control factors that put people at greater risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest the following ways to help prevent a coronary event:

  • Eat a healthy diet;
  •  Maintain a healthy weight;
  •  Exercise regularly;
  • Don’t smoke;
  • Limit alcohol use;
  • Have cholesterol checked;
  • Monitor blood pressure;
  • Manage diabetes;
  • Take all prescribed medication; and
  • Talk with health care provider.
 Additionally, knowing the signs and symptoms of heart attack are crucial to the most positive outcomes after having a heart attack. Those signs and symptoms include: Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back; feeling weak, light-headed, or faint; chest pain or discomfort; pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder; and shortness of breath. Always call 911 if you or someone around you is having a heart attack.

According to the American Heart Association, effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.

Sarah Wagner of First Lady Permanente, LLC is an advocate for everyone learning CPR, from ages 8 to adult.

“It is very sad to find out that someone died because nobody knew what to do,” Wagner said.

Wagner is the founder and executive member/instructor of a Turlock-based training center that provides classes in CPR, first aid, automatic external defibrillator and safety.

First Lady Permanente — which also teaches classes in Merced, Fresno and the Bay Area — keeps health care professionals up-to-date on their CPR training, while also offering classes for industrial workers, day care providers and students. According to Wagner, many parents are looking to become CPR certified for the safety of their own children.

“We also taught the Girl Scouts of Stanislaus County,” she said. “No matter what age, everyone should know what to do.”

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.