Our Opinion: Healthy hearts

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 26, 2005

A ceremony was held Tuesday in Hampton Roads to welcome a facility that is sure to have significant impact on the quality of life enjoyed by residents of Suffolk and throughout Hampton Roads.

The Bon-Secours – Columbia University Heart Institute in Portsmouth will open this fall. Mayors and other city officials from most of the communities of Hampton Roads from Portsmouth west attended the event.

The facility, the first of its kind in the area, will surely have a significant impact since western Hampton Roads has Virginia’s highest rate of heart disease-related hospitalization and disease. That’s particularly true among blacks, who are most likely to suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

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&uot;I’m thrilled to see this building going up behind us,&uot; Dr. Eric Rose of Columbia University, whose center performed a quadruple bypass surgery on former President Bill Clinton in September, told those in attendance, &uot;but I’m even more thrilled about what’s going to be going on inside. The incidence of heart disease in this community is high, and we believe that this center will have a dramatic impact on the community. We’re ecstatic to be able to offer this.&uot;

While Rose’s words are certainly true, there’s a simpler and far less expensive manner to have a dramatic impact on the community from the same standpoint – namely, educating area residents on the importance of eating a heart-healthy diet and working regular exercise into their daily routine.

By the time one will need the services of

heart institute, significant damage will have been done from sedentary lifestyles and diets high in fat and salt.

To supplement the services of the heart institute, it would be helpful if surrounding communities could also join together to help educate residents on how to stay healthy and avoid the need for expensive surgical procedures.

Lifestyle choices, while matters of personal choice, have far-reaching impact on the costs of procedures, medication and health insurance. We all have a stake in encouraging healthier living.