KANSAS CITY, KAN. — If your family has a history of heart disease, the Kansas University Medical Center wants you.
In an effort to help stop heart disease before it starts, the med center is starting a family heart disease prevent program Feb. 1.
Dr. Linda Gerrond, assistant professor of medicine, and Dr. S. Edwards Dismuke, explained in an interview last week how they hoped the program would help educate and treat family groups genetically predisposed to heart disease.
Sponsored by the department of preventive medicine and the department of medicine's Lipid and Arteriosclerosis Prevention Clinic, the new program will offer a free, comprehensive cholesterol screening and a fee-for-service examination by a physician. Professional guidance on such lifestyle changes as diet and exercise that can help a person avoid heart disease also will be offered.
GERROND SAID family members who participated in the program would first undergo a lipid (fat) profile to measure "good" and "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides levels.
If significant problems were detected by the profile, KUMC staffers would recommend such lifestyle changes as diet improvements, increased exercise and, if applicable, a halt to smoking.
The idea of a family oriented heart program has been in the works for a while, Gerrond said, noting she and Dismuke, chairman of preventive medicine, wanted the clinic "to be the place where the entire family can come in."
She stressed that heart disease wasn't a health problem of middle-aged and elderly people but of young people because bad habits that contribute to heart disease begin early in life.
The physicians especially hope to see children, who Gerrond said need to be made aware of their family's health problems.
IF A CHILD'S unhealthy habits are thwarted early, she explained, he or she has a better chance at avoiding heart disease and other medical problems later in life.
Children should exercise regularly, just like adults, the physician added, and, after age 2, follow low-fat diets just like grandma and grandpa.
Dismuke explained that family members' habits usually were shared if mom eats poorly, the children probably do too.
"It's easier to make lifestyle changes for the entire family than make one member of the family different from everybody else," he said, and Gerrond noted it's also easier to change habits as a child than at 35 or 40 years of age.
"We're saying," she explained, "`Let's get your children changed over now.'"
SHE ESTIMATED that a family member's first visit probably would take about 40 minutes; follow-up visits would average 20 minutes each.
Patients will be seen in the Family Practice Clinic at the KU Hospital, previously called Bell Hospital, at 39th and Cambridge streets, Kansas City, Kan. Clinic hours for the new program will be from 9 a.m. to noon the first and third Saturdays of each month.
For more information or to make an appointment, call the med center at 588-2775.