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Celebrating your heart — two different ways

From using your heart to caring for your heart, there are many reasons why we recognize heart health each February. During this month of love, we look at ways to share our affection and spread joy to others. At the same time, we raise awareness of the importance of investing in your heart’s physical health — and taking care of it each day — so you can continue to show love to others.

Keeping your heart healthy

For 100 years, the American Heart Association has raised awareness, conducted research and offered hope to those with heart disease. Although death rates from cardiovascular disease have decreased throughout the years, heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States. Jessica Bleich, a registered nurse in Trinity Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab, says daily exercise is important for heart and vascular health as it helps individuals maintain a healthy weight, ward off atherosclerosis and lower blood pressure.

“Walking is the easiest exercise for most people to do daily,” Bleich said. “Simple things like parking farther from the door, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, can add walking into our daily lives without us even trying. A 10- or 15-minute walk with a friend or family member, before or after supper, can also help increase daily activity.”

According to the American Heart Association, their “Life’s Essential 8” helps individuals improve their cardiovascular health. This includes controlling cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar, managing a healthy body weight, physical activity, sleep health and not smoking.

“By knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and glucose levels and treating any elevated numbers you can keep your heart healthy,” Bleich said. “Controlling these numbers can save your life.”

The stresses of the day, and life, can also be harmful to our hearts and minds. Simply take 10 minutes each day to do something you enjoy — reading, listening to music, gardening, relaxing in a bath — anything that quiets your mind to help manage the stress. By taking these steps to keep your heart healthy, you can celebrate your heart the other way — like showing those around you that you love and care about them!

Showing love & investing in our employees

Patience, kindness, gratitude, and compassion are a few ways we can use our heart to give and receive love to others. At UnityPoint Health, we celebrate Valentine’s Day and You Matter Day on Feb. 14 — a day to show love to our team members and recognize how wonderful they are. We continue to invest in our team members, so they can grow to their full potential and be the best they can be.

One of the ways we show employees how much they matter is by offering specialty learning opportunities. The McKinsey Connected Leaders Academy is a worldwide professional development program designed specifically for team members of color in management or leadership roles or aspirations. Dr. Sharmini Suriar, Hospital Medicine, participated in the Executive Leadership track, which helped her recognize strength in diversity and how vital it is to create a more positive DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) focused workplace to recruit and retain talent.

“Through this program I have been given invaluable opportunities to connect and learn from others passionate in DEI,” said Suriar. “UnityPoint Health has taken the lead to prioritize DEI initiatives and by offering McKinsey leadership training opportunities. I appreciate the commitment to continue to invest in its employees and their future with the organization.”

Jessica Torruella, clinic supervisor, UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine — Buena Vista, says the biggest takeaway from the McKinsey Academy was reframing the way she listens to people. By listening to understand, rather than thinking of a response, she tends to have more meaningful and effective communication, fostering better relationships and mutual understanding.

“I believe UnityPoint Health is investing in my future, and participating in the McKinsey Academy gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge and skills in management and problem solving,” Torruella said. “It gave me the opportunity to meet peers from different UnityPoint Health markets and to have open and honest discussions about what is currently happening and the work that is being done to make improvements.”

Danesha Lloyd, a registered nurse in UnityPoint Clinic OB/GYN, completed the Management Accelerator Program, where she learned management skills, leadership capabilities and mindsets, basic communication and language skills, and self-growth.

“I use all the skills currently in my leadership role on a daily basis,” Lloyd said. “The McKinsey Academy is exceptionally beneficial to all individuals, especially young leaders looking to grow personally and professionally.”

Being able to celebrate and invest in our wonderful people and provide lifesaving care to our community is truly my favorite part of UnityPoint Health. We value the many hearts we serve as both employees and patients. As your partner in health, we continue to offer stroke and vascular screenings for individuals through Trinity Healthy Living and Trinity Cardiovascular Lab. Plus, we have mapped out a walking path inside Trinity for individuals to walk in a climate-controlled space. Call 515-574-6350 to become a hall walker and 515-574-6175 to learn more about our stroke and vascular screenings.

The most important detail is to see your primary care provider at least once a year, and to follow up with them if you have concerns about your heart. By having a healthy heart — eating healthy, staying active and reducing stress — you can continue to enjoy life’s special moments and make a difference in the lives of those around you.

Leah Glasgo is the Fort Dodge market president for UnityPoint Health.

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