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UPMC Event Highlights Risks of Heart Disease

Jess Lasky
90.5 WESA

In honor of National Wear Red Day, UPMC offered screenings for the nation's number one killer: heart disease. 

For the past 5 years UPMC has been screening people’s risk for heart disease for free through their Community Outreach and Cardio Vascular Health (COACH) program.

At a Friday screening in downtown Pittsburgh, COACH used a fallen piano to highlight that while your chances of being crushed by a piano are one in 250 million, the chances of dying from heart disease is one in three.

“A lot of us overestimate the risk of certain dramatic things happening to us, and then we consequently underestimate the risk of the things that are much more mundane. None of us really takes the time to think about what heart disease might means to us, and what the chances are that we might suffer from it,” said Michael Mathier Medical Director of COACH Program at UPMC.

Mathier says that these screenings evaluate people’s BMI, blood pressure, family history, cholesterol, and sugar levels to help coach people on how to prevent the killer from affecting their lives. He said that small things such as eating healthier, exercising more and quitting smoking can dramatically decrease chances of suffering.

The event had about 30 people within the first hour, and they expected to see a lot more by the end of the day.

“There was a gentleman here that actually was having something that we call atrial fibrillation, and he’s setting up an appointment to see us. Something like that could have gone on to really be detrimental to him, so we come across a lot of high blood pressure hypertension, high cholesterols, and I think that we’ve made an impact on those individuals  and getting them to a doctor,” said division administrator for UPMC’s heart and vascular institute, Tracy Ryan.

COACH hosts about 25 health screenings each year.

Jess was accepted as a WESA fellow in the news department in January 2014. The Erie, PA native attends Duquesne University where she has a double major--broadcast journalism and political science. Following her anticipated graduation in May 2015, she plans to enter law school or begin a career in broadcast journalism.
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