World Heart Day is right around the corner, and medical professionals want you to look at ways you can improve your heart health. According to the latest data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, heart disease is the leading cause of death in Oklahoma, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths.

Juanita Neeley, the clinic supervisor at Comanche County Memorial Hospital’s Goodyear Clinic, said getting an annual physical can help you know about problems you may be unaware of.

“We see patients, and the first thing we do is we grab vital signs, blood pressure and heart rate,” Neeley said. “Whenever we do physicals, we’ll draw your labs, we do those A1Cs, and cholesterol checks. All of these things are something not everybody does all the time, but they can be a preventable measure in the long run.”

Tammie Rogers, RN, Health Center Manager for Goodyear Lawton, encourages people to look and see if they can pledge to do something to recognize the benefits of heart health and make a change. Those changes could include: keeping track of your blood pressure, monitoring and managing diabetes, or being more active.

“Just one thing can make a difference,” Rogers said. “Just making an individual pledge, and that creates healthier families, healthier employees. It increases productivity for employers as well as healthier communities.”

She said you can take it a step further and create a healthier state. Rogers said living a healthier lifestyle can become a family affair.

“And everyone in the family benefits by just that one person making that decision to change,” Rogers said.

Neeley said being proactive can help health care providers catch things quicker and try to get ahead of them. She said Goodyear associates are required to get a yearly checkup.

“People are just like ‘I didn’t know that I had high blood pressure’ or ‘I knew, and I didn’t do anything about it,’ and that’s why we harp so much on it,” Neeley said. “That’s why we do require the yearly physical because there are so many people that come and go, and they think ‘I’m not sick, I’m not going to go to the doctor,’ and some of those things can lead to long term affects and really bad outcomes.”

They try to encourage people to take preventative steps.

“Do your screenings and managing any type of disease process that’s related to the heart is far better than waiting too long and that damage being permanent,” Rogers said.

You can take the first step of taking care of your heart by going and seeing your doctor if you haven’t been in a while.

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