Heart Health Awareness 2021

Welcome to IBJ’s “Business Cares: Heart Health Awareness” Microsite

It is part of our annual campaign to build awareness about the importance of heart health and the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

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View the interactive edition

Joining IBJ, 23 companies have stepped up to make possible this microsite and its companion section published in the Feb. 5 Indianapolis Business Journal.

The section and microsite tell the harrowing story of local sports-radio host Jake Query, who survived the often-fatal “widow-maker” heart attack last year thanks to quick thinking, awareness of his own heart risk factors and quality care provided by Community Health Network.

Readers will also find:

  • Seven simple steps to take for better health, five reasons the ER remains a safe place despite COVID-19, and a comparison of heart attack symptoms in men vs. women—all courtesy of the local chapter of the American Heart Association.
  • News of a digital playbook for workplace wellness now offered by the American Heart Association and Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.
  • From IU Health, an exploration of COVID-19’s effects on heart health.
  • From Franciscan Health, answers to your questions about elective heart scans.
  • From Ascension Medical Group and Hancock Regional Hospital, a plea to step back and honestly assess your own heart-health risks.
  • And a February calendar of virtual heart-health events.

Thanks to the 23 companies and organizations below that sponsored this effort. Their investment helps provide for a heart-health awareness campaign throughout the month of February via print, digital and e-newsletter platforms.

Please look for the next installments of IBJ’s Business Cares series: Diversity & Inclusion in the July 2 IBJ and Breast Cancer Awareness Oct. 1.

Thanks for supporting IBJ and the companies featured here as we all work together for better health.

Nate Feltman
Publisher, President & CEO

Ongoing Events

February 5
National Wear Red Day On National Wear Red Day, thousands of people, including employees at more than 10,000 companies across the country, will wear red to support the start of American Heart Month. This year is the 20th annual National Wear Red Day. Post a picture of yourself wearing red using the hashtag #IndyGoesRed and tag @AHAIndiana on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

February 5
Go Red Goes STEM The American Heart Association will host its third annual STEM event for local high school students. Students will learn about STEM opportunities from local companies and will participate in live Q&A and mentoring sessions with representatives of those companies.

February 7–14
Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week Congenital heart defects affect nine of every 1,000 births and are one of the leading causes of death for infants less than 1 year of age. Thanks to years of research and medical advancements many congenital heart defects can be fixed.

February 26
Go Red for Women Digital Experience (Indianapolis) 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. / Zoom The 17th annual Go Red for Women celebration will be a digital experience in 2021. In addition to hearing from heart disease survivors, guests will be treated to a keynote address by Kathryn Childers, one of the first five women hired by the U.S. Secret Service. For more information, visit www.heart.org/indygoesred.

How to survive a ‘widow maker’—The story of Jake Query

By Bobbie Brooks

Community Health Network

Jake Query knew the odds were against him. The IndyCar announcer and co-host of “Query and Schultz” on ISC Sports Network had a grim family history when it came to heart health, including an uncle who had a heart transplant at the age of 49.

Early on, Jake fought—and seemed to be beating—the odds. He maintained a healthy diet and regular exercise routine. On top of that, Jake has had heart scans and taken his blood pressure daily to monitor his condition.

But despite this effort, Jake, 48, felt a pain in October and knew he was in trouble. He was out to eat with his girlfriend and a friend when he says he felt a discomfort in his arm. He described it as how you feel when you have your blood pressure taken and the cuff squeezes tight. Then the heartburn kicked in. Jake knew he was having a heart attack.

He went to the closest hospital, Community Heart and Vascular Hospital, and headed directly to the emergency room. Testing showed Jake was suffering from a “widow maker.” That’s when the left anterior descending coronary artery is 100% blocked. This puts people at risk for sudden death due to deadly heart rhythms as well as heart muscle failure and cardiogenic shock.

When the ER’s “STEMI code” was activated, signaling someone was having a heart attack, Dr. Ben Maatman, an interventional cardiologist, responded along with a cath lab team. Jake asked Dr. Maatman, “Am I going to die?” Dr. Maatman said, “I told him that he is exactly where he should be for his emergency; being triaged and treated rapidly for a heart attack, with a cath lab team to get him cared for. I told him we will get him back to the lab, get the artery opened, and get him feeling a lot better soon.”

Quick care by the ER crew had Jake ready to go across the hall to the cath lab. Once there, a catheter was inserted in an artery in Jake’s wrist to access his heart artery.

“Using a wire, a balloon and ultimately a stent, blood flow was restored to his heart,” Dr. Maatman said. Jake was monitored for a couple of days at the hospital before being released.

How did Jake survive a widow maker? Another 30 minutes and Jake may not have made it, Dr. Maatman said. When an artery is blocked, the blood flow has been cut off to that area of the heart and cells start to die off. The sooner that flow is restored, the better the chance of survival and less damage to the heart in the long term. In fact, medical systems are required to track and report “door to balloon” times. This is the time it takes from entering the ER until the artery is opened in the cath lab.

Jake’s quick response to his symptoms and quick treatment at Community Heart and Vascular Hospital saved his life. Also, Jake’s effort to avoid a heart attack paid off.

“Being otherwise healthy and well-conditioned certainly gives you more reserve during the emergency, less likelihood of further complication and a better chance at quicker recovery,” Dr. Maatman said.

The vast majority of heart attacks happen to people with uncontrolled risk factors, including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, tobacco abuse and sedentary lifestyle. Dr. Maatman said heart attacks are less common among people, like Jake, who have been doing everything right.

That’s one reason why Jake has been sharing his experience with anyone who will listen. He knows firsthand how recognizing heart attack symptoms can literally save your life.

“Classic symptoms are the ‘elephant sitting on my chest’ with unrelenting central chest pain or pressure that may radiate to the neck, back, or arms. Patients may experience “crescendo symptoms,” or warning signs of less intense symptoms hours or days before progression of the blockage to 100%. Accompanying symptoms can be nausea, sweating, and shortness of breath. The elderly, diabetics, and females may have more subtle atypical symptoms, such as heartburn, belching, fatigue, and new onset shortness of breath,” Dr. Maatman said. The cardiologist said the biggest mistake he sees men make is trying to “tough out” or “sleep off” those symptoms, which leads to a delay in care that can be devastating. “This can be incredibly detrimental, if not deadly, in certain cardiac conditions.”

So, how is Jake doing a few months after suffering a massive heart attack?

His doctor says that by all accounts he’s doing great and ahead of the curve. In fact, Jake and Dr. Maatman are planning to run the 2021 Indy Mini Marathon together. (Although, Dr. Maatman said he reserves the right to fabricate an injury if training does not go as smoothly as expected.)

Jake is “a very prominent voice in our city and he is helping raise awareness for cardiac disease, but also showing people that they can recover and continue to participate in the events that they love,” Dr. Maatman said.

‘Digital playbook’ can help employers manage employee health

When employees are happy and healthy, everyone wins. Unfortunately, the state of the world and the workplace have made it hard for human resources leaders and managers to help keep their employees happy and healthy, as we collectively face a global pandemic, social injustice and polarizing politics.

Employee stress and mental wellbeing have an impact on productivity and morale as well as a person’s overall health. That’s why the American Heart Association and Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana are collaborating to improve wellness in the workplace and relieve these everyday burdens with a comprehensive digital playbook.

The playbook, “Whole Health Matters,” highlights the critical intersection of physical and mental health and features monthly, themed content based upon a whole health approach. The playbook was built for companies to educate their employees—whether they work at the office or at home—about these health concepts, through training, assessments or social media.

“Support begins with a holistic approach to health care—an important concentration for both Delta Dental and the American Heart Association,” said Delta Dental CEO Goran Jurkovic. “In the workplace especially, the links between physical health and emotional health are increasingly clear, especially coming off this year and the challenges we’ve faced.”

Mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health as close to 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, according to the World Health Organization, and now, billions of people around the world have been doubly affected by COVID-19.

The science-based content around mental health from the American Heart Association takes on increasing importance during a time of uncertainty when people are searching for information and solutions.

The playbook and other resources are available at heart.org/en/ delta-dental.

Content provided by American Heart Association.

Five reasons hospitals are safe for heart, stroke emergencies—even in the pandemic

Although COVID-19 has changed the world, it hasn’t changed the fact that hospitals are the safest place to be if there’s a heart attack, stroke or other medical emergency.

Delaying the 911 call that gets you to the hospital can be dangerous—even deadly. Here’s why the pandemic shouldn’t make you hesitate or doubt that you need emergency help:

  1. Hospitals are following infection control protocols to sanitize, socially distance and keep infected people away from others. In fact, many hospitals have separate emergency rooms, operating rooms, cardiac catherization rooms and ICUs for people with COVID-19 and for those people suspected to have the disease. Patients are often being met by workers in full protective gear as a precaution, and family member access is restricted.
  2. Calling 911 immediately is still your best chance of surviving an emergency. It is SAFE for EVERYONE to call 911. It is SAFE for ANYONE to go to the hospital in an emergency. You shouldn’t worry about the system being able to provide adequate care.
  3. Emergency room workers know what to do, even when things seem chaotic. Emergency rooms have made plans to ensure adequate staffing and keep patients and workers safe. This is their specialty and their strong suit; hospital workers are trained in disaster readiness and to get the job done in any situation.
  4. Year in and year out, heart disease and stroke are the top two killers worldwide. Someone in the U.S. will have a heart attack and someone else will have a stroke every 40 seconds. More than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the U.S. annually. Hospitals know exactly what to do in these instances to save lives.
  5. Fast care is the key to survival. Minutes matter. People with blocked arteries or clots causing heart attacks or strokes need care quickly. The difference between life and death can be measured in minutes. With so little time to work with, and the extra time needed to ensure coronavirus safety measures, calling 911 quickly is more important than ever.

Call 911 if you or a loved one experiences heart attack warning signs— chest discomfort; discomfort in other areas of the body such as your arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach; shortness of breath; and other possible signs, like breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

If you or a loved one has stroke symptoms, which you can remember with the acronym FAST: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech slurring or other difficulty, then it’s Time to call 911.

If you find a loved one or anyone down and unresponsive (with or without a pulse), call 911 and start CPR right away.

Content provided by American Heart Association.

Have heart-scan questions? We have answers

By Ryan P. Daly Franciscan Health

Q: My brother recently had a heart scan and had an elevated score. He told me to get one to ensure my heart is healthy. What exactly is a heart scan?

A heart scan or coronary calcium scan offers signs of your heart’s health. While calcium is an indicator of bone health, this test isn’t related to calcium in your diet. This calcium test evaluates the health of your blood vessels. In general, it can help a physician estimate how much calcified plaque a patient has in the coronary arteries and what a patient’s relative risk of having a heart attack is over the next 5 to 10 years.

The test uses a CT scan to take images of your coronary arteries, and the doctor is specifically checking for a buildup of calcium related to plaque in these vessels. This is different from the plaque your dentist finds on your teeth. It’s a substance made up partly of fat and calcium. Plaque starts in the blood vessels in a waxy state and slowly builds up. As time passes, it can harden and calcify, becoming “calcified” plaque.

Q: What are the dangers of calcified plaque?

Hardened plaque can be compared to a clog in a pipe. It slows down the flow of blood and could result in some body parts not getting enough oxygen. A buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries can lead to chest pain, known as angina.

Another risk of this plaque is that it can break away, or erode, leading to clot formation in the coronary artery and cause a heart attack.

The heart scan tells the doctor how much calcified plaque is in your heart’s arteries. The scan assigns a score based on the amount of calcified plaque: a score of zero means the absence of calcified plaque, and a low risk of coronary artery disease. A score greater than 100 indicates a higher amount of plaque and increased risk of disease that may require further testing or treatment. Very high scores greater than 300 mean there is calcified plaque and an increased risk of heart attack. Once you have this information, you and your physician can plot a course of action.

Q: Who should get a scan?

If you have a sibling with an elevated calcium score, you may want to consider getting a scan yourself, because heart disease does run in families. However, the coronary calcium scan isn’t for everyone. It involves exposure to radiation, roughly the same as a mammogram. It’s wise to get the scan only if you know it can provide you with useful information.

The American Heart Association suggests the test is most useful for people age 40 and older who have risk factors for coronary artery disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, or a family history of heart disease. People younger than 40 with a strong family history of heart disease should talk with their physician to see if calcium scoring is right for them.

Q: How much does the scan cost?

It’s important to remember that health insurance usually doesn’t cover this scan. Most hospitals, however, charge less than $50. Check your coverage and the cost before you go. (This test is not a substitute for stress testing, and it does not detect non-calcified plaque, which may be present. A score of zero, in general, means an excellent prognosis, but not zero risk— especially if you are a smoker or diabetic.)

Q: What happens on the day of my scan?

Once you decide to get a coronary calcium scan, you will visit a hospital or clinic with a CT scanner. You may need to avoid caffeine or smoking the day of the test. You will wear a hospital gown and need to remove clothes and jewelry from the waist up.

During the test, you’ll lie on your back in the CT scanner. The test takes 10 to 15 minutes. Once it’s complete you can go home or go to work.

Depending on where your test is done, you may get your results and score the same day. Your family doctor can help you interpret your score and how it might impact your health. Together, you should discuss changes in what you eat, how much exercise you get and what medications you should take.

Dr. Daly is a board-certified cardiologist at Franciscan Physician Network Indiana Heart Physicians. To learn more about the Franciscan Health Screening Bundles or to schedule a $49 heart scan, call (833) 238-0688 or visit franciscanhealth.org/ ScreeningBundles.

Keeping Hoosier hearts healthy after COVID-19

Content provided by IU Health

The year 2020 will hold a place in history textbooks for generations to come. All of the world’s major events, however, were dwarfed by the pandemic caused by the novel SARS-coronavirus (COVID-19). The world-wide pandemic virtually halted life as we know it. It disrupted almost all aspects of human interaction, distressed our health care system, and, most importantly, threatened the life of innumerable individuals.

While the burden of COVID-19 has been wellrecognized— around 575,000 Hoosiers have survived COVID-19 and 8,800 have died—mounting evidence suggests the infection can lead to heart damage and risks not apparent during the acute illness.

“Both the infection itself and the body’s immune system can attack heart tissue and small and large blood vessels, contributing to myocarditis and subsequent heart failure or arrhythmias,” says IU Health cardiologist Dr. Alexander Smolensky.

For instance, athletes—individuals who we’d think would have the reserves needed to withstand an infection—have alerted us to the possibility of inflammation of heart muscle, also known as myocarditis. This has affected a number of high-profile collegiate and professional players. These include Indiana University football player Brady Feeney, Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, and Florida basketball player Keyontae Johnson.

Studies from athletes and other populations from around the world suggest we can be proactive in preventing heart problems after COVID-19, even though the problems are not easy to diagnose. Symptoms might not be present, and heart-related shortness of breath can be attributed to residual symptoms of COVID-related lung disease. “We have seen vague symptoms like fatigue and palpitations,” says Dr. Smolensky. But those symptoms should prompt consideration of heart health, especially if you have a preexisting condition like high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease or a known heart condition.

The other side of the coin is that individuals might attribute classic symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pain, to COVID-19 infection. Too often, diagnosis and treatment of a heart attack was delayed because patients thought symptoms were a result of COVID-19 rather than a heart issue.

Compounding worse outcomes and lower survival has been a fear of contracting COVID-19 in medical settings, though these may be some of the safest places given the robust processes already in place to prevent infection from any cause.

How well are we prepared to prevent heart problems, not just for athletes but also for the broader population of individuals recovering from COVID?

Indiana University Health, in partnership with the Indiana University School of Medicine, the largest medical school in the United States, has a nationally recognized sports cardiology team led by Dr. Richard Kovacs and Dr. Smolensky that brings needed experts and experience together to serve both athletes and non-athletes concerned about heart health post-COVID.

“Our team, with expertise in areas like cardiology, radiology and sports medicine, carefully combines bedside assessments with appropriate state-of-the-art technology at a number of IU Health facilities to be able to noninvasively identify heart muscle inflammation or damage that can be treated to prevent future problems,” says IU Health cardiac imaging expert Dr. Ronald Mastouri. Individuals concerned about heartdisease prevention post-COVID should know that meticulously maintained outpatient offices as well as remote visits via telemedicine allow our experts to connect with you in a safe, timely manner.

Those suspected of having a COVID-related heart condition undergo thorough clinical evaluation and necessary testing, such as an ECG and heart MRI. If clues point to other heart disease concerns, other tests may be used to get the best picture of someone’s heart health.

To see an IU Health cardiologist for heart health post-COVID, please call 317-962-2500.

Stressed out? Time to check in with yourself

By Hiroko Noda-Heiny Ascension Medical Group Hancock Regional Hospital

Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States.

About 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronary artery disease is most common, with 365,000 deaths per year—20% of victims are younger than age 65.

About 800,000 Americans will have a heart attack each year, and one in five of those heart attacks will be of the “silent” variety. That means you might not recognize that you’re having a heart attack. Some may have all of the common signs and symptoms of a heart attack: chest pain, chest pressure or discomfort, a feeling of weakness, lightheadedness, cold sweats, and shortness of breath. Others may have unusual or vague symptoms, such as jaw or back pains, nausea, vomiting, or unexplained tiredness. These are more commonly experienced by women.

So how can stress cause a heart attack?

There is good stress and bad stress. If you go for a walk and stress your heart regularly with exercise, that’s good stress. The bad stresses can be either physical, mental, or emotional stress. Stress can be in the form of constant and chronic pain, excessive weight gain or unchecked blood pressure issues. It can also be caused by constant worrying and feelings of frustration and anger. It could certainly be from grief after the loss of a loved one. We’ve even seen heart attacks in people experiencing the wrath of mother nature, such as hurricanes and fires. Any of these excessive stressors that go unchecked can eventually lead to heart disease.

In this historically stressful time, it’s important to take the time to become aware of any symptoms or changes to your body that have occurred over time.

As many of us have taken on more responsibilities at work and at home, with kids and e-learning, one thing that you may not be getting enough of across the board is sleep. That leads to feelings of fatigue and perhaps more caffeine intake to keep alert during the day. Some may have found it difficult to quit smoking, and some may be requiring a little more wine in the evenings. All of the above, including snacking on the wrong foods, do add up over time and lead to higher blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and, ultimately, heart disease.

So, what can you do right now?

Ask yourself, am I getting enough sleep? Am I taking time to sit and eat a meal that contains fruits and vegetables? Am I taking time to exercise? Have I kept the weight off this year? If you aren’t answering “yes” to all these questions, you may already have one or more of the risk factors for heart disease.

I know that making an appointment to see your doctor may be stressful in itself during this pandemic. I see more new patients coming in much later than I’d like for them to. I have been seeing more younger patients and women patients than I used to. Heart disease is a spectrum, and the earlier you intervene the better outcome you’ll have.

So, here are some simple suggestions for you:

  • Rest your mind with meditation, even for 5 minutes.
  • Get up and be active.
  • Treat your body to good nutrition and rest.
  • Ask yourself about your eating and sleeping habits, weight gain and exercise. With so many health apps available, it’s never been easier. Challenge yourself to make a lifestyle change, even if that change happens in baby steps.
  • Consider getting a coronary calcium heart scan, a super-fast CT scan that you can schedule yourself without a doctor’s order. It’s less than $50 at most hospitals. It is a great tool for people with risks and without symptoms. If you’re asymptomatic, the tests are not covered by insurance. The heart scan allows you to look inside the arteries for plaque and show you blockages that are still early.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to know your own body and prevent the start and the progression of heart disease. Let’s make 2021 the year you take control of your health. Be mindful. Be well.

Noda-Heiny practices with Ascension Medical Group, Hancock Heart Care and Henry County Cardiology, and is the author of “Know thy own Heart Health.”