Nebl identifies risk factors for heart disease

Talking about women and heart disease at the Woodland Park Senior Center, Sandy Nebl was both light-hearted and deadly serious.

“Heart disease is the Number One killer of women,” said Nebl, chief clinical officer at Pikes Peak Regional Hospital. “Nothing even comes close to heart disease. One in 24 women will die of heart disease.”

Heart disease is a plumbing problem on a highway of vains and arteries, she said, adding, “When any place on that highway starts to get plugged up, we’ve got a problem. We have coronary arteries on the heart and if they plug up, you have a heart attack.”

As well, problems occur if the valves in the heart slow down or aren’t working right. “They need to be replaced; congestive heart failure means the heart has stretched out and is not working efficiently,” Nebl said.

Heart failure, for instance, can be preceded by swelling in the ankles, out-of-the-ordinary fatigue, dizziness, heart flutters and nausea. “For the most part there are treatments for that; many times medicines will help quite a bit, actually,” Nebl said.

However, there are other factors that affect heart disease, among them, fat, bad diet, genetics, age, gender, family history, blood pressure, smoking, cholesterol, exercise and weight.

“This is a conversation you should be having with your physician or physician’s assistant,” she said.

Having delivered the cautionary news, Nebl offered up a counterpoint. “The good news is that there are things you can do to prevent and/or control heart disease,” she said. “I’ve been in health care for 30 years and I’m here to tell you there is no condition that gets better if you ignore it.”

Nebl concluded with a zinger, an antidote to premature death from heart disease. “Enjoy people. The people we did heart surgery on, I can almost predict the ones who were going to do well,” she said. “A lot of it was their attitude. It made a huge difference with their recovery. Surround yourself with positive people who support what you’re trying to do.”…

Nebl was accompanied by the hospital’s chief financial officer, Kim Monjesky, and chief executive officer, Dolores Horvath, who made several announcements about the additions in specialty care: urology, eye-ear-nose-throat, obstetrics-gynecology, cardiology, dermatology and pain management. This month, ophthalmologist Charles McMahon, St. Luke’s Eye Care in Colorado Springs, plans to open an office at the hospital.

“I’m working on bringing oncology services up here. I know how difficult it is to take chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy and then drive home when you’re not feeling well,” Horvath said. “It’s a passion of mine and my mission to bring these services up here.”

To a question from the audience about the hospital’s financial situation, Horvath replied positively.

“When I got here in July the hospital had never made money,” she said. “In fact, the company behind the hospital, Brim Healthcare, was keeping the hospital open. We have made money every month since July. I am very proud of that.”

With more services and patients, Horvath announced that the hospital expects to expand the operating rooms from two to four while adding 10 inpatient beds for a total of 25 beds.