Hannah Byers, a student in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program at Chamberlain College of Nursing’s Columbus campus, is working to help combat a national epidemic — the rising number of heart attacks and strokes. And she’s doing it through preventative care.
Each year, Americans suffer more than two million heart attacks and strokes. The healthcare industry is evolving to focus on preventive care in an effort to lower healthcare costs and the prevalence of chronic disease such as these. Hannah and her peers hope to prevent these conditions, which are the first and fourth leading causes of death in the United States.
Many of the major risk factors associated with heart attacks and strokes – including blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking and obesity – can be controlled. Educating the public about actionable steps to improve health can help lower the number of these cases.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Million Hearts Campaign is an initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. by 2017. It aims to deliver upon its mission through a variety of measures including:
- Focusing clinical attention on the prevention of heart attack and stroke
- Activating the population to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle
- Preventing tobacco use
- Reducing sodium and trans-fat consumption
At Chamberlain, Hannah participated in the Million Hearts Fellowship, an initiative started by The Ohio State University which supports the Million Hearts Campaign by preparing student nurses to educate the public about risk factors associated with heart attacks and strokes.
“Through the education and preventative measures I shared with the community, I am a small part of the bigger solution to prevent heart attacks and strokes,” Hannah explained. “My experience in the Million Hearts Fellowship was eye-opening. I didn’t realize how many of my friends and family were unaware of basic heart health and the risk factors associated with heart attacks and strokes.”
Hannah and 22 other Chamberlain students were enrolled in the Health Assessment II course taught by Associate Professor Linda Hunt, PhD, RN. In total, 150 of Dr. Hunt’s students have achieved the Million Hearts Fellow designation since she implemented it into the curriculum.
To achieve Million Hearts Fellow status, they completed an online educational module, watched a series of online lectures and learned how to conduct, interpret and triage heart-health screenings.
Next, they conducted heart-health screening and education sessions for 10 people in their community to evaluate heart-health risk factors and topics including:
- Aspirin control
- Blood pressure control
- Cholesterol management
- Smoking cessation
- Stress reduction
“As the role of a nurse continues to broaden within the changing healthcare landscape, it’s important for student nurses to understand the impact they can have on patients’ lives, not only in providing care but through education,” said Dr. Hunt. “Through the Million Hearts Fellowship, Chamberlain students have the opportunity to demonstrate and strengthen a core competency of nursing – preventative care.”
The students learned to perform accurate biometric assessments for individuals, educate others about the risk factors associated with heart disease and stroke and provide actionable steps to help prevent these health issues.
“Becoming a fellow has provided me with the opportunity to educate those around me about heart attacks and stroke prevention. I feel proud to be a part of an initiative that emphasizes the important role preventative care can play in one’s long-term wellness,” added Hannah.