Program teaches participants how to respond to heart attacks, stroke

Published on Wednesday, 17 July 2019 19:07


BRISTOL – Participants in Tracy Driscoll’s wellness program were visited by doctors from Bristol Health Wednesday, who educated them about risk factors, symptoms and prevention methods for heart attacks and strokes.

A conference room was packed with more than 20 participants in the wellness program.

“We’ve had this program going for about a year and yesterday participants underwent a biometric screening with visitors from Bristol Health,” said Nancy Caron, who serves on the wellness program committee at Tracy Driscoll. “Our wellness program is voluntary and we offer four challenges a month where participants can earn points to be used for things like cash, days off and gift cards. The challenges are all related to mindfulness, fitness and nutrition. It’s not all diet and exercise – it may also be related to anxiety. We encourage participants to keep journals and to use apps on their Apple watches like MyFitnessPal, which helps with calorie counting. We have 30 of our 40 employees participating.”

Andrea Fletcher, who also serves on the wellness program committee, said that another exercise the company participated in was employees anonymously leaving sticky notes with words of encouragement on each other’s desks.

“We hope to build on this program and make it bigger and better,” said Fletcher.

Presenters from Bristol Health were introduced by Chris Boyle, director of public relations and marketing with Bristol Health. He also congratulated the employees on having biometrics that were “overall pretty healthy.” Speakers included Dave Koscuk, director of Emergency Medical Services, Liran Blum, a cardiologist who spoke about heart disease, and Kateryna Kurako, a neurologist, who spoke about strokes.

Blum said that heart disease is the most common cause of death in the U.S. Risk factors include being overweight, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and a family history.

“For family history, we mean a male relative who got a heart attack under 55 or a female relative who got a heart attack under 60,” he said.

Blum stressed that prevention is key because it is easier to control risk factors than to treat a heart attack. He encouraged people to have their cholesterol monitored, diet and exercise.

“You can eat healthy by cutting calories or adding more fiber and protein to your diet,” he said. “You should also have at least 150 minutes of consecutive activity a week.”

Blum said that symptoms of heart disease include chest pain, shortness of breath and sometimes jaw pain.

Koscuk advised people on what to do when calling 911 for an emergency.

“Take a deep breath, remain calm, make sure that animals are locked up in a room with a closed door and make sure that the room is clear of obstructions,” he said. “They are going to ask you questions like your address, your apartment number, what the outside of your building looks like, the age and sex of the patient, what they look like and if they are responsive. If they are not responsive, they may talk you through opening their airway and doing hands-on CPR.”

Koscuk encouraged those who attended the program to carry a medical card in their wallet with their important medical information since it can speak for them if they can’t speak or are unconscious. Responders, he said, will want to obtain as much information as they can about a patient’s medical history.

Kurako said that a stroke is the fifth most common cause of death in the U.S. A medicine called Tissue Plasminogen Activator (TPA) has been very successful in restoring those who suffer from a stroke. However, it is really only effective within four-and-a-half hours from the onset of the stroke. If given after six hours, it could result in intracranial bleeding. Kurako said that people should not try to treat those who suffer from a stroke themselves and that they should not just try to sleep the problem off. They should get to the hospital as soon as possible because time is of the essence.

Those interested in having a similar program come to them can email Chris Boyle at

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News on Wednesday, 17 July 2019 19:07. Updated: Wednesday, 17 July 2019 19:09.