News from Ohio State University

Ohio State offers cardio screenings to celebrate Million Hearts program

On the eve of Valentine’s Day, The Ohio State University celebrated a milestone in cardiovascular health promotion – supporting more than 100,000 screenings to identify potential heart-related issues and to offer resources for healthier living.

An interprofessional team of faculty, staff and students from the Colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy, conducted screenings at Thompson Library on Tuesday morning.

“People come in and we do a blood pressure screening, a stress screening, a body mass index calculation,” said Kate Gawlik, associate professor of clinical nursing. “Then we go through things like, ‘Do you smoke? How are you exercising? What’s your diet like?’ And we really focus on individualized cardiovascular risk reduction.”

For more than a decade, Ohio State has been a partner with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Million Hearts program – the only institution of higher education in the country to do so. The university developed the Million Hearts online fellowship program, which has resulted in more than 100,000 Americans being screened and educated about heart health. The CDC designated Ohio State and the Wexner Medical Center as a Million Hearts Health System in 2021 to recognize their significant impact on cardiovascular health and well-being.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Ohio and throughout the nation. The CDC reports that, in 2021, Ohio ranked 11th in the country in death rate from heart disease.

“When we look at the population now as a whole, so many of us have cardiovascular risk factors, and we know that cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women across the world,” Gawlik said. “We also know that cardiovascular disease is 80% preventable through lifestyle [behavior changes]. If we can get to people earlier, screen them for cardiovascular disease, educate them, and then, if needed, refer them, then hopefully we’re catching that cardiovascular disease early.”

Adeline Racan, a second-year nursing major, assisted with screenings at the library. Each one typically lasts between 15 and 20 minutes. She encouraged the university community to take the time and get a screening and appreciated the engagement with those who did turn out.

“It’s a real-time example of how we can help people, even just in our community, and it shows how the small things can lead up to bigger impacts,” she said.

Gawlik said the program will continue to educate health care professional students and health care professionals on the Million Hearts initiative to support screenings throughout the community.

“I think the best advice that we can give people is that cardiovascular disease is preventable. And whether or not you have a family history or you’re familiar with cardiovascular disease, it is out there and affecting people, and there are very simple things that you can do to really decrease your risk and catch it early.”