Why one man put his heart to the test
Rob Russell deals with death for a living as a coroner in Kane County, Ill. And he’s really taking his job to heart.
“I see way too many people in their 40s, 50s and 60s come through the coroner’s office from sudden deaths related to heart disease,” says Russell, 46. “I want to help educate the community on how to take better care of their hearts so they can live longer, healthier lives.”
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association.
“When we look back into the medical histories of these young people dying from heart attacks and other heart-related issues, we often learn that they haven’t seen a doctor in 10 or more years,” Russell says. “It’s just sad because many of these deaths may have been preventable.”
Russell wants to lead by example to encourage others to take charge of their heart health. Recently he underwent a comprehensive heart screening at Advocate Sherman Outpatient Center in South Elgin, Ill. that included a blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose test, body fat composition, three different ultrasounds, an EKG and a CT scan of the heart.
Russell, who is married with four children, has a family history of heart disease, which makes him a prime candidate for the risk assessment. It also makes his cause to improve heart health quite personal. He sees his primary physician regularly, but it has been awhile since he had a preventative screening.
“The whole process was quick and painless,” Russell says. “Technology today gives you your results within a day or two – some even within minutes. There’s really no excuse for not doing it.”
The results are indicators of a person’s cardiovascular risk profile, which Dr. Raminder Singh, cardiologist with Advocate Medical Group, says is a critical factor in determining how to best maintain and improve cardiovascular health.
“It is important for people to know their numbers – their blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and BMI – as these are the key indicators of your risk for common killers such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes,” Dr. Singh says.
Some of these factors may be controlled through diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and medications, he says. Others, such as gender, age and family history, cannot.
“The screenings we provide are great tools to start a proactive conversation with your physician about your risks, and create an action plan for addressing those that are within your control,” Dr. Singh says.
Russell’s results indicate that some lifestyle changes are in order to maintain his health and make improvements in a few areas. He says knowing the full story behind each of the numbers will help motivate him to make those changes.
“I suffer from couch potato disease – I know I need to exercise more and be more conscious of what I eat,” Russell says. “Going through this screening process gave me the push I needed to take charge of my own health, and hopefully will motivate others to do the same.”
Click here to watch a video of Rob’s screening experience.
Learn more about your heart health by taking our online heart risk assessment at iHeartAdvocate.com.
About the Author
Tonya Lucchetti-Hudson, health enews contributor, is public affairs director for Advocate Medical Group and Advocate Physician Partners.