Hundreds dance for health at 2016 Dance Your Heart Out

Delores Thomas of Wilmington has known she has hypertension for a long time.

“I’ve been on medication for 17 years,” said Thomas, 55. “High blood pressure runs on both sides of my family.”

She never passes up an opportunity to have her blood pressure checked. She was glad she did when she attended Dance Your Heart Out, an annual event sponsored by Christiana Care Health System that combines screenings, education and lively dancing while raising awareness of women’s cardiovascular health.

“My blood pressure is a little up today, which is not good, so I am going to follow up with my family doctor,” she said.

More than 500 participants, mostly women, got a heart-healthy workout and a lot of important information at the March 10 event at the Chase Center on the Riverfront.

“More than 200 individuals received screenings for blood pressure, body mass index and body fat, diabetes and stroke risk ” said Beth Bradley, MS, APN, clinical leader, Cardiovascular Prevention Program.

Barbara Doles of Smyrna enjoyed herself so much at last year’s event that she returned for a second year.

“I love the dancing, plus I get screenings for free,” she said. “I like that I can have fun while I am doing something healthy for myself.”

Doles, 58, and other returning attendees found two new educational opportunities, learning about their risk of stroke and risk of type 2 diabetes, said Karen Anthony, MS, senior program manager, Community Health and Preventive Medicine.

Some of the Dance Your Heart Out participants have come out to the event each year since it started in 2011.

“When individuals are aware of  their risk factors they can partner with their primary care providers to create a plan to  keep them as healthy as possible,” she said.

Prevention was a vital part of the message at the event. Attendees could learn how to plan menus that are low in salt and fat, as well as prepare meals with nutritious ingredients that reduce the risk of developing various cancers.

Kate Lamonica, 69, and Sharon Kwiatkowski, 66, of Newport heard about Dance Your Heart Out through a senior center.

“Now that we are getting older we are more aware of how important screenings are,” Kwiatkowski said.

“And we also love to dance,” added Lamonica.

Michael Waite, guest emcee, kept the vibe upbeat and moving for hundreds of enthusiastic dancers.

The event was a collaborative effort with Christiana Care’s sponsoring partner, the News Journal. The sixth annual Dance Your Heart Out would not have been possible without the commitment and dedication of the planning committee and many volunteers.

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Christiana Care staff helped keep things moving at the popular heart health promotional event.

Participating Christiana Care programs and service lines included: The Center for Heart & Vascular Health; Women & Children’s Health Services; Primary Care & Community Medicine; Cardiac Rehabilitation/Secondary Prevention; Center for Heart & Vascular Health Blood Pressure Ambassador Program; Community Health Outreach and Education Program; Nutrition Services; Exercise Services; Christiana Care Cardiology Consultants; Camp Fresh; Health Ambassadors; The Swank Memory Care Center; Pulmonary Hypertension; Non-invasive Lab; Imaging Services;  Breast Center;  WomenHeart of New Castle County; Employee Health; Metabolic Health Services, Weight Management Center;  Stroke Program; Language Services; and External Affairs.

Community groups partnering in the event were: The Blood Bank of Delmarva; Delaware Department of Corrections and the American Heart Association.

Dance instruction and performances were by: Dance Delaware; Dance Jhankaar; Anytime Fitness and the YMCA of Delaware.