The La Porte Report: Keeping my Heart Happy and Healthy

You may not think about your heart often, yet it continuously pumps blood to each part of your body without hesitation. It faithfully disperses nutrients throughout, and disposes of waste products, allowing you to complete your everyday tasks with a steady circulation and an abundance of energy.

The Heart & Vascular Center, located at 901 Lincolnway in downtown La Porte, is dedicated to preventing, diagnosing and treating heart and vascular disease.

For some, taking a trip to the doctor’s office can be dreadful; you may be anxious, you may not know what to expect and most of all: you may not feel as if you need to go.

In some cases, there may not be warning signs - you could feel perfectly healthy on the outside, while there are problems occurring on the inside.

The way to stay on top of your heart’s health is to be preventative - be proactive and get your heart checked.

As a first-timer, it can be overwhelming - there are machines with wires and stickers, needles and blood pressure cuffs. These are normal devices used for your own good to calculate your heart health, cholesterol and blood pressure.

When I first walked into the Heart & Vascular Center, I was greeted with a hearty welcome, along with a clipboard and paper with questions about my cardiovascular health, personal information and my doctor’s information.

I was then called back into a room where I would soon be the subject of blood tests, an electrocardiogram and both a carotid and an aorta ultrasound.

The registered nurse measured my height and weight, in order to calculate an accurate body mass index (BMI), a value that indicates if an individual is of normal weight, is overweight or is underweight.

After being taken into my room and being introduced to a welcoming nurse and a polite ultrasound technician, my fear of the cold medical instruments lying on the counter next to me seemed to disappear.

This made it easier for me to relax throughout the next steps of my screening.

I laid down on the hospital bed and began my assessment. Blood pressure was taken from both of my arms and ankles. Blood pressure, the force of blood on the walls of arteries, is important because if high, your arteries can become narrow, making it more difficult for your blood to circulate.

I was then given an ultrasound of my carotid artery. This preventative screening visualizes the lining and blood flow of this major artery that has the potential to build up with plaque, blocking blood flow to the brain, ultimately causing a stroke.

The ultrasound gel was cold, yet painless. The same ultrasound test was done on my abdomen, measuring the size and wall thickness of the aorta, the largest artery in the body. This test is important because it demonstrates the blood circulation to my legs. If my body had a problem with blood traveling through my legs, I could be at risk of having peripheral arterial disease (PAD), plaque that builds up, blocking blood from traveling either direction.

As the test was being administered, I could hear the sound of my blood flowing through my arteries. It paralleled an ocean’s waves, but on a smaller scale.

The most intense test was the electrocardiogram - this test, otherwise referred to as an EKG or ECG, records the electrical activity of the heart and its rhythm.

The wires, attached to stickers, hooked up to my chest, wrists and ankles, and recorded the electrical impulses within my body. The process was a little frightening at first, but harmless, to say the least. The results were printed within five minutes, but must be reviewed by a cardiologist for interpretation.

Lastly, my finger was pricked by a needle smaller than you can even imagine. This blood test measures cholesterol, a fat lipid in the blood, and glucose, which checks for diabetes.

I could barely feel the needle, and the entire process was complete faster than you can even say “electrocardiogram.”

There was no reason for me to worry and tense up, make my heart race with just the thought of making a trip to the doctor’s office. The staff tended to my needs in any way they could, making me feel as comfortable as possible.

Getting your heart checked is one way to stay ahead of your health. Make it a priority, and schedule an appointment with the Heart Cart Mobile Screening Unit. This mobile cart visits churches, businesses and community groups.This cart is always on the go, working to protect hearts one stop at a time. It will be at IU Health St

arke Hospital on Aug. 13, IU Health LifeWorks Business Park on Aug. 18 and IU Health Primary Care at LifePlex on Aug. 27.

You may also get your heart screened at The Heart & Vascular Center. To schedule an appointment, call 219-326-2626. This $1,200 value is currently only $50, but for many people, the experience is priceless in terms of identifying issues that would have gone unnoticed. Save yourself potential future expenses as a result and stop by at your convenience.