Heart Month kicks off with wellness expo

Eastern Michigan University will kick off the American Heart Association’s National Heart Month with the Go Red Health and Wellness Expo from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Go Red VIP Luncheon from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the EMU Student Center Ballroom.

At the expo, students can expect to see Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, Michigan Heart, NuStep, EMU Sports Management, College of Health and Human Services and EMU Fashionality.

In addition to the health and wellness expo and luncheon, EMU President Susan Martin will serve as chairperson for the kick-off breakfast at 7:30 a.m.

The Go Red Health and Wellness Expo, which is kicking off EMU’s sixth year of participation in Washtenaw County’s American Heart Association Heart Walk, will include the opportunity for students to obtain free health screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index.

American Heart Association Corporate Development Director Christine Mikolajczak said students should attend the health and wellness expo because their health risks could be higher than they assume.

“Students aren’t expected to outlive their parents due to the lifestyle choices they make,” Mikolajczak said. “But the students don’t know they are at higher risks because they aren’t getting checked for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar or BMI.”

EMU Service Director Gretchen Ward also believes students need to be concerned about their health because they might be at risk.

“I believe that it is a myth that only overweight people are at risk of heart disease, and that it is only something people need to be concerned with when they are older,” Ward said. “In reality, young, fit, active people are at risk too, and any small changes they make now will greatly reduce their risk of heart disease in the future.”

Ward added she hopes students will walk away from the Go Red Health and Wellness Expo with a better understanding of how they can reduce their risk of heart disease.

“I hope students leave with a better understanding of what this disease is and a sense of empowerment that they have the ability to manage their health,” Ward said.

“I was 24 when my dad passed away at age 51 from a heart attack,” Ward said. “At 230 pounds and at size 20, I realized that my dad’s fate would also be my own fate if I didn’t start to make some lifestyle changes.”

She views the expo as an opportunity to teach students what she has learned from her own experience.

“I’m looking forward to this event because it is an opportunity for me to send the message, ‘You can change your fate,’” Ward said.

EMU Graduate Coordinator of Health Communication Kay Woodiel said she believes any students who are interested in quality as well as quantity of life will benefit from attending the Go Red Health and Wellness Expo.

Mikolajczak said 15 to 20 people started planning for the Go Red Health and Wellness Expo last summer, and that getting the word out about the expo was a struggle since this will be Washtenaw County’s first Go Red event.

For more information visit www.emich.edu/gored/events.php.

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