Heart issues in focus this week

The Cayman Heart Fund will shine a spotlight on heart health issues this week with a variety of “heart smart” activities. 

Events include an International Cardiac Symposium, a Ruby Luncheon and Women’s Expo, and a free Heart Health Fair. 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the Cayman Islands. In 2012, the most recent statistic from the Cayman Islands Economics and Statistics Office listed it as accounting for 30 percent of all deaths here.  

Heart disease includes conditions affecting the heart, such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure and congenital heart disease. 

The nonprofit Cayman Heart Fund promotes awareness of the disease in the Cayman Islands. Their aim is to help prevent and reduce early deaths, long-term disabilities and widespread suffering that heart and circulatory diseases cause people.  

“Cayman Heart Fund is happy to provide free cardiac screening to the public so they know their numbers and can manage their lifestyle to ensure a healthy life,” said Sue Rajah, Heart Fund program coordinator. “We are also proud that we can provide free cardiac symposia for the medical community to be aware of the most recent practices, procedures in cardiovascular health.”
The luncheon and fair will provide educational material to the public to be more aware of the signs of cardiovascular disease and prevention, she said. 

Cardiac symposium  

The International Cardiac Symposium at the Harquail Theatre on Thursday and Friday, March 12 and 13, is for medical professionals on island. 

The symposium provides three hours of continuing medical education credits to attendees. The event is free, but those who wish to attend are asked to pre-register online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/RGR5NW5 to get their CME credits. 

Seven international cardiologists will be speaking at this event. They are: pediatric cardiologists Dr. Madeleen Mas and Dr. Barry T. Katzen of Baptist Health South Florida; Dr. Frank Scholl of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in South Florida; Dr. David Safley of St. Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute; Dr. Joshua Purow of Holy Cross Hospital; Dr. Edward Savage of Cleveland Clinic Florida; and Dr. Matthews Chacko of Johns Hopkins in Maryland. 

Registration and cocktails are at 5 p.m., followed by opening remarks by Dr. Bella Beraha-Stroh, vice chairman of the Cayman Heart Fund. Chief officer in the Ministry of Health Jennifer Ahearn will open the symposium. A brief question and answer period will follow each presentation. 

Ruby Luncheon and Women’s Expo  

Dr. Katzen, founder and executive director of the Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute, will also be the keynote speaker at the Ruby Luncheon and will speak on “Recent Advances in Stroke Prevention.” 

He will highlight some of the technological advances that have replaced more invasive procedures in the treatment of aneurysms of the aorta and elsewhere in the body, including the brain, and will also address how blockages of arteries are dealt with by balloons and stents. 

He will also discuss technologies to remove plaque, devices to treat stroke earlier and more effectively, new technologies to correct holes in the heart, and devices that are currently being researched, like the MICRA pacemaker, which can be put in to control the pumping of the heart, is only the size of a large pill, and does not require cables or wires to be put in the chest. 

“Sometimes we hear criticism about the cost of technology, or the use of technology for technology’s sake, but each of these technologies has had a dramatic effect on reducing invasiveness, risk, hospital stay, as well as other benefits that have brought great value to patients,” Dr. Katzen said. 

His talk will also highlight how new cardiovascular technologies and techniques are allowing physicians to treat a diverse group of cardiovascular diseases without open surgery, resulting in saving lives and reducing complications and more rapid return to normal activity. 

The event will be at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, on Friday, March 13, from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

His presentation will be followed by lunch, a raffle and live entertainment. Tickets are $50 per person, with corporate tables of 10 for $450. 

Heart Health Fair  

Organizers of the eighth annual Heart Health Fair say this is an important opportunity for many to learn if they might be at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, as it offers the opportunity for those without insurance or minimal insurance to be tested for free. 

This takes place on Saturday, March 14, at the Arts and Recreation Centre at Camana Bay, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

The event offers free cardiac risk screening for adults and children and consultations with doctors to review results. This requires people who wish to be screened to fast for 10 hours prior to the test (with the exception of blood pressure medicine). 

There will be a kids activity zone outside, sponsored by the Heart Fund and Rotary. This will include Zumba dancing, face painting, karate and more. 

Also at the fair, Health City Cayman Islands will be conducting its Cayman Islands Atrial Fibrillation for Elderly, or CAFE, study, in which people can be screened for their potential risk for having a stroke. 

The Get Active Challenge will also be launched at the fair. This is similar to the “War on Weight” but for teens interested in losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle. To get the registration forms for the Get Active Challenge, teens must attend the fair.  

Dr. Sook Yin, medical director of the Cayman Heart Fund, said, “The results of the Cayman Islands Healthy Nation Study done in 2012 indicated that noncommunicable diseases and their risk factors are prevalent in the Cayman Islands. Cardiovascular disease, cancers and diabetes contribute to the leading causes of mortality and morbidity.  

“More than 40 percent of the respondents of this study within the range of 25 to 64 years of age have three or more risk factors of these NCDs, which included smoking, hypertension, low level of physical activity, and less than five servings of fruit and vegetables daily and a BMI of 25, which places them in the overweight category. With stats like this, urgent steps must be taken to avert the cardiovascular disease burden crisis facing the Cayman Islands.” 

She added that the Cayman Heart Fund will continue to support Cayman Islands healthcare providers “in their fight to reduce the burden of this disease by offering free educational and awareness programs and free screening of cardiovascular risk factors that can lead to early detection of cardiovascular disease.” 

“Heart Smart Week activities and the year-round educational and ‘Know Your Numbers’ campaign are some of the ways which we hope that the community will embrace to improve their cardiovascular health,” she said. 

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