Harlan County recognizes heart month

Published 11:05 am Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Harlan County recognized February as American Heart Month on Friday, as Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley signed a proclamation during a ceremony at the Harlan County Courthouse.

“This is American Heart Month,” Mosley said. “We are fortunate to have with us today some of our community partners.”

Mosley noted Mark Bell and Heather Saylor of Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Brian Graham of AFLAC and local cardiologist Dr. Georges Damaa were all in attendance.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women,” Mosley said. “One person dies every 34 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. About 697,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2021.”

Mosley pointed out Harlan County and many surrounding counties suffer from some of the nation’s highest heart disease rates.

“We want to celebrate the fact that AFLAC has partnered with ARH and Harlan County to provide a lot of AEDs (automated external defibrillator) in our community,” Mosley said. “I’m pleased to share today that we now have 71 AEDs available in the Harlan County community.”

Mosley said this is a significant improvement on the number of devices available just a few years ago.

“A lot of that is thanks to AFLAC, who helped us recently acquire 14 AEDs to be placed in Harlan County,” Mosley said. “Those are now at the Lynch Police Department, Benham Police Department, Cumberland Police Department, Putney Fire Department, Harlan County Sheriff’s Office, Harlan County Emergency Management, the Sunshine Fire Department, the Loyall Police Department, Wallins Fire Department, Evarts Fire Department, Evarts Police Department, Yoakum Creek Fire Department, Cloverfork Fire Department, and the Laurels.”

Mosley called on Heather Saylor to speak to the group about a pair of learning aids, and an inflatable brain and heart large enough to demonstrate different types of illness which can impact those organs.

“We were blessed with an AFLAC grant so we could get some materials to help teach the community,” Saylor said. “We have this inflatable heart; it labels each section and explains different processes… it’s a great visual aid.”

She explained the inflatable brain serves the same function as a teaching aid. She also mentioned additional visual aids which are used for instruction in schools and at community events.

Saylor explained the purpose of an AED.

“An AED is a portable electronic device that can automatically diagnose life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia,” Saylor said. “It is going to detect the rhythm. If it’s a life-threatening rhythm, it’s going to automatically deliver a defibrillation, and that’s going to correct that life-threatening arrhythmia that’s happening to try to help the patient get back to regular rhythm.”

Saylor said the AEDs are very user-friendly and easy to understand.

“It was a year ago we got word from AFLAC they were going to provide us with this grant in order to do some major work to improve the health and well-being of our community,” said ARH Community Patient Advocate Mark Bell. “ARH’s mission is today what it’s always been, improving the health and well-being of the people in partnership with our community and organizations.”

Dr. Damaa also gave some information on heart disease.

“Prevention is the main treatment for heart disease and stroke,” Damaa said. “Heart disease has risk factors, and we have to educate our patients on how to manage these risk factors so we can prevent heart attacks and help them live longer and better.”

The ceremony wrapped up with Mosley signing a proclamation recognizing February as American Heart Month in Harlan County.

Contact your physician for more information on heart disease and how to combat it.