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Sacred Heart Hospital Starts to Expose Students to Stroke Awareness at an Early Age
Date:6/1/2009

Kids Learn the Link between Healthy Living and Reducing Health Risks

EAU CLAIRE, Wisc., June 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Ten year olds aren't typically at risk for stroke, but lifestyle habits developed at this age could lead to stroke risk factors. A program run by Sacred Heart Hospital offers elementary school-aged children a primer on leading a healthy lifestyle. In conjunction with parents and the administration at St. Mary's and St. Joseph's Elementary Schools in the Chippewa Valley, staff members at Sacred Heart work with fourth and fifth graders to teach them about establishing good eating habits and exercise patterns, risk factors of illnesses such as stroke and what to do in an emergency.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090601/CL25262)

"The majority of strokes are preventable," said Jeannie Pittenger, CNRN, Assistant Director of Neurosciences & Pediatrics, and Stroke Program Coordinator at Sacred Heart Hospital. "Adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyles reduces the risk for several health problems including stroke."

Pittenger's goal is to teach kids the lifestyle/health link. Right now, she meets with classes from St. Mary's and St. Joseph's Elementary Schools twice a year. During those visits Pittenger determines their Body Mass Index (BMI), reviews risk factors, helps students set goals like learning to make better choices when ordering out, and when and how to call for help.

Students are also tested on the information Pittenger presents; results help her understand what is getting through to them. BMI numbers and test scores are then plotted to graph progress. "Overall, the kids seem to be getting it," she said. "Right now, because they're growing, we might see a child with higher, potentially unhealthy, BMI. The second part of the program is about education. Each student is exposed to ways to eat healthy, exercise and reduce risk factors (as appropriate for their age). We also provide materials to parents. Our goal is to help children understand what healthy living looks like."

There are plans to expand the program and test and track all grade-levels. Right now Pittenger hopes to follow this class through graduation.

About Sacred Heart Hospital

Sacred Heart Hospital strives to provide patients the best, most specialized treatment available by blending advanced technology with the Franciscan tradition to improve health by treating the whole person - body, mind and spirit. Its stroke education program is an example of this commitment. As an affiliate of the Hospital Sisters Health System, the hospital has met patient needs in Western Wisconsin, since 1889, with the latest medical innovations and technology. For additional information about Sacred Heart Hospital, visit www.sacredhearteauclaire.org.

    Contacts:
    DeAnna Starn
    R/P Marketing Public Relations
    (419) 241-2221
    dstarn@r-p.com

    Shannon Portell
    Sacred Heart Hospital
    715-271-2681
    sportell@shec.hshs.org


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SOURCE Sacred Heart Hospital
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