SHERIDAN — Heart disease is a problem growing in prevalence all over the United States, and Sheridan County ranks among the highest in the state. Sheridan Memorial Hospital is recognizing Heart Month by offering free education and blood pressure screenings to the community.

SMH Cardiac Catheterization Lab Manager Kristi Ramsey said the first thing people might not know about heart disease is that it can happen at any age, and in recent years, it has become a concern for younger people.

“It can happen to anyone at any age and at any time,” Ramsey said. “Some of it is because of things (people) cannot control, like their age, structural issues in the heart, genetics and ethnicity, but a lot also comes from things people can control.”

Ramsey said lifestyle factors that contribute to heart disease include smoking, stress, being overweight, not getting enough exercise and suboptimal diet high in salt. While these factors are not unique to any one geographical place, evidence of the damage done is not hard to find at a local level.

The Wyoming Department of Health estimates 21.6% of deaths in Wyoming are attributed to heart disease, making it the No. 1 cause of death in the state, as is true with the rest of the nation. Sixty-five percent of adults in Wyoming are overweight.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show Sheridan County in the highest classification for total cardiovascular disease deaths, averaging 336 deaths per 100,000.

Men fare considerably worse than women, as their heart disease-related deaths are at 435 per 100,000 people, while women are at 247 per 100,000 people.

When Sheridan’s cardiac facility opened in 2013, it was one of three cardiac catheterization labs in the state. Today, it represents a calculated effort to make lifesaving care available to rural residents around the region.

Ramsey said staff there performed 486 procedures during the 2019 calendar year.

Of those, 46 were acute heart attacks. An additional 167 of those procedures were stent placements.

The rest were other options to treat active heart disease, including angioplasties, thrombectomies or device implants. Statistics from the county’s most specialized heart care center do not adequately reflect the patients in the area that receive care from general practitioners, such as taking medication for hypertension.

Ramsey said in addition to offering free blood pressure screenings to the community on Mondays during the month, she will be offering a talk to both medical providers and the community at large about special considerations regarding women and heart disease.

“We want people and providers to be on the lookout because it’s happening younger and it can present differently in women,” she said, adding pregnancy and menopause can be times of higher risk.

Anyone interested in a free blood pressure screening can visit the SMH cafeteria each Monday during the month of February from 7-9 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Ramsey’s free health talk about Women and Cardiovascular Disease is Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. in the SMH community conference room at 61 S. Gould St.


Article by Tracee Davis

for The Sheridan Press