While the BHB/Lahey Clinic’s Cardiac Associates of Bermuda focuses on coronary care diagnosis and treatments, other agencies — The Bermuda Heart Foundation is one — perform risk factor screening and institute public health measures to try, through education, to reduce the incidence of coronary disease.

“Our best efforts to prevent progression of coronary disease involve long-term teaching and lifestyle modification with attention to the risk factors,” Dr. Carl Levick, Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) chief of cardiology said.

“Much of coronary disease is the result of our diet and exercise habits.”

He noted, for example, Bermuda’s increasing risk of obesity, diabetes and hypertension.

Once coronary disease is diagnosed in a patient, modifying the patient’s risk factors may help prevent future cardiac events such as myocardial infarction.

Cholesterol starts to build-up in the ‘coronary tree’ in the teenage years.

This gradual accumulation in the arteries goes on through life and is called atherosclerosis.

The end result of this gradual process may be a heart attack or myocardial infarction.

Certain factors may accelerate the process of atherosclerosis, according to Dr. Levick. Smoking, hypertension, diabetes, high blood cholesterol and family history of coronary disease are referred to as ‘risk factors’ by physicians.

According to a BHB spokesperson, “The BHB offers a Cardiac Care Programme (a referral from your doctor is required), managed by a nurse educator, who provides support, counselling and education to cardiac patients and those at risk for cardiac conditions.” The process involves one-on-one interviews, a full assessment, risk factor profile, goal-setting and class attendance.

“‘Heartline’ is a six-week series of classes held three times a year on six consecutive Wednesdays from 10am until noon at KEMH,” the spokesperson said.

“It is geared to identify ways to avoid heart disease and instruction on how to live a full life after a heart attack, coronary artery bypass grafting or angio-graphy.”

For more information, call the hospital at 236-2345 and ask for the cardiac nurse educator.