OHS Wraps Up American Heart Month

By Marie Haughey, staff writer; photos by Marie Haughey, staff writer, and Richard Frederickson, staff photographer
Employees decked out in red for National Wear Red Day.

Employees decked out in red for National Wear Red Day.

With February coming to a close, Occupational Health Services (OHS) has wrapped up American Heart Month, a four-week-long series of events that raised awareness about heart disease and promoted heart-healthy habits.

American Heart Month began on February 1 with the American Red Cross Blood Drive, which saw a total of 15 donors.

Next was National Wear Red Day on February 2, when employees wore red to raise awareness of heart disease. Everyone who participated gathered at Building 426 for a group photo.

On February 15, the “DASH & Dine” event was held in the Building 549 Discovery Café to educate employees about the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan, which was developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

In addition to lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and the risk of hypertension, DASH improves heart health and, when combined with physical activity, can assist with weight loss. Instead of requiring participants to follow a strict diet, the DASH Eating Plan is flexible, with a focus on whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and low-fat meat and dairy products.

OHS also promoted a heart-healthy lifestyle through the Take a Hike event, a 1.3-mile hike around campus that rewarded hikers with a pair of Bluetooth earbuds. Originally scheduled for February 8, the event was rescheduled for February 21 due to snow and ice.

The change ended up for the best, as the weather on February 21 was sunny and clear, and the temperature was in the mid-70s. The event saw a record number of 72 hikers who took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to emerge from their offices and stretch their legs.

Closing out American Heart Month was the “What’s Your Salt IQ” event on February 22. Dressed as a chef and armed with a basket of salt and facts, Sarah Hooper, RN, OHS manager, quizzed lunch-goers and handed out prizes in the Building 549 Café.

Her opening question—“Which has more salt, a slice of pepperoni pizza or a hot dog?”—had participants stumped, with most indicating that they thought a hot dog had more sodium. A hot dog, on average, has just 567 mg of sodium, while a single slice of pepperoni pizza has almost three times that amount, 1,538 mg per slice, which is more than the daily recommended allowance.

Finally, OHS spent the month of February advertising the free walk-in blood pressure clinics held in the OHS office every Tuesday and Thursday from 12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. throughout the year. With the recently updated American Heart Association guidelines, now is a great time to get your blood pressure checked.

Employees learning about the DASH Eating Plan at the DASH & Dine event. Sarah Hooper, RN, quizzes participants at the "What's Your Salt IQ" event.