SHU and LECOM unite for heart health

Seton Hill University (SHU) and the American Heart Association (AHA) hosted a heart walk that raised $3,266 in donations. On Saturday, SHU and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) students gathered with community members and walked around the campus to raise awareness for heart related illnesses.

“Walking is one of the best exercises. You don’t need any special equipment. That’s one reason I like the idea of the heart walk. By walking regularly you’re going to help decrease your risk of heart attacks and stroke,” said Janice Beckage, coordinator of health education and staff nurse. Heart attacks and strokes are two of the top three medical killers in the US according to Beckage, who helped plan the heart walk.

Beginning at Lynch Hall, 142 participants marched up to Caritas Christi, down to the Our Lady’s Grotto and St. Mary’s Hall before returning to Lynch. They were offered water from the Sisters of Charity and a healthy snack after the walk was completed.

In addition to the SHU students and staff, approximately 30 LECOM students participated in the day. They provided blood pressure screenings as well.

“As future physicians, it’s important for LECOM students to be involved in awareness efforts,” said Brian Sweeny, LECOM representative, in his address to the students.

“I just want to raise money for a good cause,” said first year LECOM student Jake Phillips.

“We want to raise awareness. Whatever we can do,” added fellow student Cory Gray.

SHU has been involved in the AHA Westmoreland County heart walk for many years, but this is the first time in a while that the walk has taken place on campus because of scheduling conflict with homecoming weekend.

“We wanted to try to get more students and staff involved, and we thought we would get a better representation if we had it [at SHU], “ said Beckage. According to Beckage, only a few students have participated in the event in past years.

“I read about [the heart walk] on Griffin’s Lair and decided to try it out. I had never walked for a cause before and I thought AHA would be a great place to start,” said SHU sophomore Dana Escareno.

Beckage had a personal reason for participating; her mother died at age 48 after a heart attack and coronary artery disease.

“It’s really worried me because that puts me at risk. Then I worry about my sons. I want to make sure they are exercising and doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” said Beckage.

Students posted their reasons for participating in the heart walk on the health education bulletin board in Lowe Hall.

“I walk to be the change that I want to see happen. As a future physician, I want to set the example of a healthy lifestyle for my patients,” wrote LECOM student Nick Callahan.

“I lost my aunt to an undetected arrhythmia. I walk for her memory and for future research that will save others from the same fate,” wrote LECOM student Alexandra Alfieri.

SIDEBAR: Top 10 Myths about heart disease:
Via Wilderness Medical Society
1. I’m too young to worry about heart disease.
2. I’d know if I had high blood pressure because there would be warning signs.
3. I’ll know when I’m having a heart attack because I’ll have chest pain.
4. Diabetes won’t threaten my heart as long as I take my medication.
5. Heart disease runs in my family so there is nothing I can do to prevent it.
6. I don’t need to have my cholesterol checked until I am middle-aged.
7. Heart failure means the heart has stopped.
8. The pain in my legs must be a sign of aging.  I’m sure it has nothing to do with my heart.
9. My heart is beating really fast. I must be having a heart attack.
10. I should avoid exercise after having a heart attack.