Eleuthera, Bahamas – In 2012, 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular diseases, accounting for 31% of all global deaths, making cardiovascular disease the number one killer in the entire world.

To kick off an aggressive fight against the disease, One Eleuthera Foundation in partnership with Family Medicine Center and Cancer Society of Eleuthera, hosted their 4th Annual Pathway to Wellness Symposium to discuss cardiovascular health and best ways to move forward in decreasing morbidity and mortality due to the disease.

The two day event began with a Health Fair held on the grounds of the Haynes Library in Governor’s Harbour on Thursday July 30th. The Fair was comprised of heart health information, health screenings (blood pressure, blood glucose and BMI), a healthy food booth and other health related booths. Most entertaining was an exercise demonstration by Keyshna Kemp, a yoga demonstration by Kathy Colman and salsa demonstration by Blue Seahorse. That same evening a reception, sponsored by Rotary Club of Eleuthera, was held to welcome all presenters, guests and participants to the symposium.

Presenting at the main symposium event, held on Friday, July 31st, at Cancer Society Eleuthera Wellness Center were Dr. Shakera Carroll, CME Coordinator for Public Health, Dr. Frederick Smith, Emergency Room Physician at Doctors Hospital, Dr. Tonya Roker-Davis (joined via phone), Family Medicine Physician at Family Medicine Center, Sharad Johnson, Medical Fitness and Rehab Coordinator at Bahamas Medical Center, Kitiboni Adderley, Owner and Senior Physical Therapist at Handling Your Health, Wellness and Rehab, Reverend Dr. David Cann, Ministerial Moderator for Central Eleuthera Region for the Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church, and Father Scott Brennen, Rector and Parish Priest of St. Patrick’s Anglican Parish.

Community Outreach Coordinator (COC) Maisie Thompson presenting certificates of appreciation to our valuable sponsors Family Medicine Center and Dr. Graham & Nurse Anita Cates.

Moderating the first section of the event and making the first presentation of the day was Dr. Shakera Carrol.

“Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is simply a disease of the heart or blood vessels”, she defined during her presentation on who is at risk for heart disease and why.

Risks for heart disease are either modifiable (can be changed) or non-modifiable (cannot change). Modifiable risks include obesity, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and an unhealthy lifestyle. Non-modifiable risk factors include age, gender, race and family history.

Signs and symptoms of heart failure to keep a look out for include discomfort, heaviness or pressure in the chest, shortness of breath, palpitations, weakness or dizziness, and swelling of the feet and legs.

An energetic Dr. Fredrick Smith cautioned participants about noting signs and symptoms of heart disease and the importance of not writing them off as heart burn or gas which is a very common thing for Bahamians to do.

“Pain in the center of the chest should be immediately treated by chewing an aspirin. Then get to a doctor fast”, warned Dr. Smith.

He further noted that women are at a higher risk for CVDs than men. More specifically, women going through menopause have a depleted source of estrogen, increasing their risk for the disease.

“About 68% of people with diabetes are at risk for heart disease and stroke”, said Dr. Roker-Davis, making the correlation between diabetes and cardiovascular disease during her phone in presentation.

Such high risk is due to the fact that diabetes affects blood vessels and the heart uses these same blood vessels to pump blood throughout the body.

According to Sharad Johnson, exercise plays a major part in remedying all of these risks that can lead to heart disease. Numerous studies have shown that exercise treatment improves cholesterol, circulation, bone health, and sleep. It reduces blood pressure and stress, controls weight, prevents stroke and boosts the immune system among other things.

“It is recommended that you exercise for 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week, but everyone is different. You need to start somewhere even if it’s only 10 minutes per day”, encouraged Mr. Johnson.

During her presentation, Physical Therapist Kitiboni Adderley talked about her role in heart health. She frequently visits Eleuthera to see patients and had this to say.

“About 80% of the patients I see on Eleuthera have either had a heart attack or stroke”, she said.

This is a staggering statistic, especially for such conditions that are preventable and manageable with appropriate, healthy lifestyle changes.

Due to OEF’s holistic approach to issues, the symposium not only provided helpful information on heart health, but added components that provided assistance in improving heart health and health in general through positive thinking and nurturing a healthy spirit.

“There are four pillars that can affect your spiritual and physical health. Anger, fear, jealously and hate can exacerbate any disease”, said Reverend Dr. David Cann

“We must reprogram our thoughts from negative to positive thinking to improve our health”, he continued.

Father Scott Brennen presented on healthy spirit, indicating that we must Allow Oxygenated Resolutions To Abound (AORTA) so that oxygenated spirituality can pump through our arteries.

And the results of all of this? A healthy mind, a healthy spirit, a healthy body, a healthy life.

In his wrap up of Friday’s Symposium, Dr. Cates announced the start of a ‘Lay Health Educators Course’ to train persons to educate their communities about various health issues that are plaguing the health of our people.

“We expect training to begin in September or October and intend for the course to become a certified and internationally recognized program”, said Dr. Cates.

One Eleuthera Foundation and the Center for Training and Innovation (CTI) are partnering with Family Medicine Center to make this course a reality, expecting it to assist in the fight against and reduction of Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs).

“Cardiovascular disease is a silent killer. We have seen people as young as 18 die from undiagnosed heart conditions. It is important for our people to take their health seriously and make the necessary changes to their lifestyles in order to improve their lifespan”, said Shaun Ingraham, CEO of One Eleuthera Foundation

‘There is much work left to do”, he concluded.

For more information on this and other One Eleuthera projects and events, visit www.oneeleuthera.org.

Keyshna Kemp, Transformations Fitness Centre conducting a fitness routine demonstration at the Pathway to Wellness’s Health Fair held at Haynes Library grounds, Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera.

Nurse Johnson taking a Health Fair participant’s blood pressure. Screening also included glucose testing and body mass index measurements.

Kitiboni Adderley of Handling Your Health, Wellness and Rehab demonstrating the proper way to walk with Ms. Mackey, a participant from Harbour Island. The proper way to walk is from heel to toe.

COC Maisie Thompson pinning Dr. Frederick Smith in appreciation of his contributions to the symposium. All speakers, donors and health fair vendors received certificates as well.

Kitiboni Adderley conducting a smoothie demo encouraging participants to use this method to get their daily servings of fruits and vegetables. She also encouraged participants to grow fruits and vegetable at home so price would not be an issue between them and healthy foods.