Treadmill Walkathon set to begin Feb. 22

For the second year in a row, Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital (RPMH) will be hosting a 24-hour Treadmill Walkathon. The hospital announced that the event is scheduled to kickoff at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 22 and run through 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 23, at the hospital’s Cardiac Rehab Center.As cardiovascular disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States, RPMH continues to raise awareness of cardiovascular diseases through community events such as the walkathon.“Last year, we tried something new with the 24-Hour Treadmill Walkathon, and we were blown away by the amazing support and participation,” said Donna Boatright, the hospital’s administrator. “The money we raised last year for the American Heart Association and the impact we had in local awareness was incredible, and we hope we can do the same this year as well.”The RPMH 24-Hour Treadmill Walkathon will take place at the RPMH Cardiac Rehabilitation Center where volunteers and medical staff will be on-hand for a full 24 hours, ensuring that the treadmills are being continuously utilized. Rehabilitation therapists will also be present leading stretching routines and providing tips and appropriate exercises.“One of the big takeaways from this is that something as seemingly simple as taking a brief walk, each day, can be key in preventing and fighting cardiovascular diseases,” Boatright explained.It is estimated that 82.6 million Americans develop one or several forms of cardiovascular disease, including congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, stroke or high blood pressure. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three deaths is a result of heart disease and stroke, equal to about 2,200 deaths per day.“We’ve seen a couple of celebrities over the past several years talk about their experiences with heart-related illnesses, including stroke,” said Wes Stafford, director of the RPMH Cardiac Rehab. “The take away from their stories was to educate yourself about identifying the symptoms and knowing how to respond.”According to Stafford, there are four major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, all of which are controllable to a certain degree. They include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and lack of regular exercise. All are deadly elements that can contribute to complications of the heart.If you or a family member fall into one of these groups, or if your family has a medical history of cardiovascular complications, it is advised that you talk with your physician about cardiovascular disease. Tests and examinations might be recommended to help identify your risk.“A physician can advise whether you might benefit from an electrocardiogram, a test that allows physicians to take a closer look at your heart,” Stafford explained. “We see patients all the time here at the RPMH Cardiac Rehab Center who come in with referrals from their physicians for tests that will help us get a better picture of how their heart is performing.If you are found to be at high risk for heart disease, your doctor can supply you with the tools needed to fight back. Prescribed medication, a medically-directed diet and an exercise program are the usual options prescribed to improve your health.Increased physical activity can dramatically improve the condition of your heart and lungs, along with your overall health. Exercise routines should be brisk enough to raise your heart and breathing rates, sustained for at least 30 minutes without interruption, three to five times a week.Brenda Hollis, dietitian at RPMH, recommends at-risk individuals adopt a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. In addition, she says that up to 30 grams of fiber should be consumed every day. Because high blood pressure is linked to sodium intake, Hollis also suggests that you should limit the amount of salt in your diet.“Many of the foods that make our lives convenient when on-the-go are rich with high fat and sodium and are a major contributor to clogged arteries,” Hollis explained. “Finding the perfect balance of exercise and healthy foods is the best way to prevent cardiovascular problems.”As with any change of lifestyle, you are encouraged to consult with your physician to make sure your body can handle the prospective changes.The RPMH 24-Hour Treadmill Walkathon will take place beginning at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 22 and run through 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 23 at the RPMH Cardiac Rehab Center. In addition to a $10 registration fee, donations are encouraged to benefit the American Heart Association.Those interested in participating in this dynamic event are encouraged to sign up fast as space is limited. For more information and to register, please contact the RPMH administration office directly at 325-235-1701 ext. 221.