Holy Rosary program offers ‘Heart Health’ education

By Ashley Roness Star Staff Writer

Last month Holy Rosary Healthcare held its annual Heart Health event to educate the public on prevention and treatment of heart disease.

Miles City resident Bill Oftedal spoke of his own heart incident.

Oftedal has been a prominent member of the community through his business, Oftedal Construction, and by serving on various community boards. In November of 2017, Oftedal learned how important taking care of himself was.

It all began in the early 1990s when he was forced by his wife and employees to attend a local health fair where he learned he had high cholesterol.

“I said you have to remember I’m pretty busy, I have a lot of things to do. It’s a very busy time in my life,” Oftedal said. “My wife and employees made the decision that that was no excuse.”

He then began to have blood work done every month. Soon he was able to lower his cholesterol, which he then sabotaged by slowly falling back into his old ways.

“Little by little I’m eating food out of a bag, always gone and never getting any exercise. So, that’s not good,” Oftedal said.

Fast forward to 2017 and Oftedal is now retired, 20 pounds overweight and his cholesterol is high.

When the chest pains started Oftedal put off going to the doctor for a week until he wasn’t able to walk to the mail box without the pain.

A trip to the emergency room led to a transfer to Billings where he was admitted. As he was laying on the table in the cardiac catheterization lab waiting for the doctors to place a stent his blood pressure dropped.

“The doctor brings me back to life and they go to work putting the stents in,” Oftedal said.

After being released he began 12 weeks of cardiac rehab where he lost 15 pounds and got his cholesterol under control.

According to Oftedal, there are three things everyone should remember when it comes to heart health.

— Don’t ignore your heredity.

— Don’t ignore your body, blood numbers or doctors.

— Sitting is the new smoking.

Cardiologist Dr. Anastasios Saliaris expressed the same sentiments as Oftedal.

Saliaris, who works in Billings, spoke on prevention and atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a fast heart rhythm that is mainly just a nuisance that occurs in about one percent of the population.

Some of the risk factors are diabetes, high blood pressure, structural heart disease, lung disease, acute stress, over-active thyroid, obesity, age, sleep apnea, alcohol and caffeine.

While atrial fibrillation isn’t deadly it does increase the risk of having a stroke. How high that risk is depends on other factors like history of heart failure, high blood pressure, whether you’re a woman, if your over the age of 65 and diabetes.

While some risk factors can’t be changed some can be prevented like obesity and smoking.

Atrial fibrillation is treatable with medication.

(Contact Ashley Roness at starnews@midrivers.com or 406-234-0450.)

“Little by little I’m eating food out of a bag, always gone and never getting any exercise. So, that’s not good.”
— Bill Oftedal Heart Patient