Heart Day

From left, personal trainer and manager Steve O’Brien, trainer/nutritionist Manya Wandersee and tobacco prevention specialist Jason Opheim make heart symbols with their hands Wednesday at the KANA Wellness Center.

The Kodiak Area Native Association will be offering free health screenings Friday in celebration of World Heart Day.

A health fair, which will take place at the KANA Wellness Center – located at 3400 Rezanof Drive East, will offer the screenings from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Jason Opheim, tobacco treatment specialist for KANA, said they decided to host a health fair due to the amount of people affected by heart disease.

“This is something that has affected the community,” he said. “Heart disease, especially cardiovascular disease, is very prevalent. It kills about 17.5 million people a year. It’s something that has touched probably every person in some way or another, and we’re all at risk if we don’t take care of ourselves.”

The fair will feature different stations that will have activities to help inform people about their overall heart health and how to improve it. 

“If an individual comes in and they go to any table, they are going to be able to see that some of the decisions they make are either good for them and they should encourage this type of healthy decision making, or they can be pointed to some adjustments,” Opheim said. He also said people can then be referred to other tables because many factors can play a role in heart health, including mental health, diet, anxiety and chemical dependency.

Some tables will feature members of the medial community, who will be on hand to perform BMI screenings, glucose tests and blood pressure checks. A nutritionist will give advice on the foods promote heart health and those that don’t.

Steve O’Brien, the personal trainer in charge of the wellness center, said that his station will give a three-minute step test and a five-move balance test to measure body strength and heart rate. He said people can leave his table with an easy-to-perform exercise routine that can help improve heart health.

“I think it’s amazing that the 17.5 million deaths that occur are preventable,” he said. “If you ask anyone in Kodiak if exercise helps your heart, I think they’re going to give us the same answer.  We want to teach simple things to do. Anybody can do them, and hopefully they come out with an awareness of what they can do to help their heart. We’ll have a take-home exercise routine that anybody can do anywhere – simple things to get people started.”

A member of KANA’s behavioral health team will also be there to inform people how a positive attitude can help improve heart health. A prevention team will talk about the benefits of being tobacco-free, as well as free of chemical dependencies.

“We hope this will be a great service for the community,” Brian Fraley, communications coordinator for KANA, said. “I hope that local businesses will take advantage of this free opportunity by letting their employees get screened during work hours while on the clock. It’s an easy way to find out if you have health risks and to learn how take preventative measures and avoid future health risks.” 

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