Tracey Hammond is on a journey toward reducing her risk of stroke and heart attack.
She took her first steps at Dance Your Heart Out, an annual event sponsored by Christiana Care that combines screenings, education and fun to bring home to women and men the importance of exercise and a heart-healthy diet.
“I have high blood pressure, and my doctor is on me to lose weight,” said Hammond, 50, of Wilmington. “My sister told me about Dance Your Heart Out, and I’m here to get started.”
More than 500 people, most of them women, attended the March 20 event at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. Participants received free screenings, including blood pressure, bone density and body-fat analysis. They also learned how to measure their waist circumference, an indicator of risk for heart disease and stroke. The waist-circumference goal for women is less than 35 inches, or 32 inches for Asian women.
Carolyn Moffa, a nurse practitioner and clinical leader in the Heart Failure Program at Christiana Care, shared tips on choosing heart-healthy foods at the grocery store.
Sheri Norton of New Castle was surprised to learn the low-calorie frozen dinner she often prepares is not the healthiest choice.
“It’s lower in bad fat — but it also has 300 mg of salt, which is not good for my blood pressure,” Norton said.
Norton, 46, came with her 14-year-old daughter, Destiny Wharton, a student in the health careers program at Hodgson Vocational Technical High School in Newark.
“In a few years I would like to be a nurse working at this event, helping people in the community,” Destiny said.
“Events like this show that The Christiana Care Way doesn’t stop at the hospital doors,” said Sudhakar Satti, M.D., a neurointerventional surgeon and honorary co-chair of the event. “We reach many more people when we take screenings and education on cardiovascular health directly to the community.”
Deitre Johnson of Dover cares for her husband with heart disease. They both began eating a heart-healthy diet after his diagnosis. Johnson started exercising in earnest when she learned she was borderline diabetic.
“Now I do line dancing almost every day, and my numbers are much better,” she said. “The more you learn about your health, the better you do.”
Emcees for the high-energy evening were Joan Coker, M.D., a head and neck surgeon, and Ken Brown, education director of the Christina Cultural Arts Center. Raye Jones Avery, Christina Cultural Arts Center executive director, kept the evening flowing with her stage direction.
Dancers from Christina Cultural Arts Center, Padua Academy, Broesler School of Irish Dance and Delaware State University provided entertainment and additional energy. YMCA instructors led dance fusion and line dancing, and shared recommended guidelines for physical activity.
Attendees wore rings with flashing red hearts, donned red Dance Your Heart Out T-shirts and kicked up their heels to pulsing, upbeat music.
At last year’s event, Janice Arcierri of Newark learned she had signs of osteoporosis after a heel scan, a simple test that measures bone density.
“I followed up with an appointment with my doctor and was shocked to learn that I do indeed have osteoporosis,” said Arcierri, 47. “I never would have known without the screening.”
This year, she brought three friends to Dance Your Heart Out. “We want to live healthier lives, and it starts with us,” Buckley said. “We want to be going to the mall together when we’re in our 90s.”
There was lots of other information and education from Christiana Care, including a wellness program demonstrating chair exercises and how to set a 28-day exercise plan. Representatives of Christiana Care Cardiac Rehabilitation and the Million Hearts Delaware initiative taught participants how to prevent strokes, and how to identify stroke warning signs. Christiana Care marketplace guides offered expertise on enrolling in affordable health insurance plans.
In all, 213 participants received blood pressure screenings, 147 were screened for bone density and 150 had their body mass indexes (BMI) calculated and measured for percentage of body fat. The screenings were done by Weight Management Center, Imaging Services, the Center for Heart &Vascular Health and the Blood Pressure Ambassadors at Christiana Care.
Collaboration among Christiana Care departments including Family & Community Medicine, OB-GYN, Internal Medicine, Center for Heart & Vascular Health, Non-Invasive Lab, Employee Health, Nutrition and Exercise Services, Weight Management Center and External Affairs helped to make the event successful.
Christiana Care is the region’s only National Community Center of Excellence for Women’s Health and provides high quality care for women at every age and stage of life. The health system is the only hospital in Delaware that is part of Spirit of Women, a nationwide network of health care providers committed to encouraging women to make positive changes in their lives through access to innovative clinical and preventive care, education and wellness programs.