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VALPARAISO — Porter Regional Hospital celebrated American Heart Month this week by announcing a recent award and raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of heart disease.

The hospital received the American Heart Association's Gold Plus level award, which honored the hospital’s achievements in the association’s Get With The Guidelines program for heart failure.

"We're the only hospital in Northwest Indiana to reach this goal," said Dr. Daniel Linert, co-chair of the Congestive Heart Failure Program at Porter Regional Hospital.

Porter Healthcare System CEO Sean Dardeau told assembled staff members Wednesday that the honor is particularly impressive for a mid-sized hospital like Porter Regional.

"It's a reflection of the hard work this team does every day in Northwest Indiana," he said. "Thank you for the advancements you're making for the profession and right here in Northwest Indiana."

Diane Kemp, executive director of the American Heart Association for Northwest Indiana, noted that her organization funds research that leads to new developments for heart disease, which include a micropacemaker the size of a pill and valve replacements that can be done without open heart surgery.

"When you're talking about individuals who have been treated (for heart disease), the American Heart Association's fingerprints is on their lives," she said.

However, she noted that up to 80 percent of cardiovascular disease can be prevented, including by controlling hypertension. 

Dr. Jay Shah, director of the echocardiology laboratory and medical director of the Heart Valve Center at Porter Regional, noted that the American Heart Association and other organizations recently revised the blood pressure guidelines. For normal blood pressure, the top number was dropped to 130 from 140 and the bottom number decreased to 80 from 90. 

"If we get to people early and address blood pressure early, we can really dramatically reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke," he said.

The Gold Plus Award means that Porter Regional had two or more consecutive years of 85 percent or higher adherence on all applicable achievement measures, and 75 percent or higher adherence on four or more select quality measures, for heart failure.

In 2017, the American Heart Association, in partnership with The Times Media Co., also worked to save the lives of cardiac arrest patients by training the community in CPR. In Northwest Indiana last year, 4,731 people were trained in CPR.


Health reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.