AMHERST - The journey to heart health can sometimes be a lonely trek, even if it doesn't have to be.
The Cumberland Health Authority is again offering the popular Heart to Heart Program that reaches out to those suffering from heart disease and their families.
"It's a program created through the Heart and Stroke Foundation that is designed to assist people that have cardiac disease or heart problems and want to have support in reducing their risk factors. That's our primary goal," Sue Boiduk, district co-ordinator for Cardiovascular Health Nova Scotia said.
The program has been offered on and off over the years in Cumberland County and there was one program last winter in the area. Boiduk is hoping to see more people participate I the program, considering the county has among the highest incidence of heart disease in the province and the country.
Boiduk said cardiovascular disease is on the increase across the country and said the Heart and Stroke Foundation recently added a risk category for 20-30 year-olds.
"That's a little startling and should be a bit of a wake-up call," she said. "As a community we have to do what it takes to reduce the risk through healthy living."
Heart to Heart begins on Tuesday, Feb. 1 and includes a number of different sessions ranging from the anatomy of the heart and what goes wrong when heart disease develops. Sessions also touch on things like risk factors, nutrition and physical activity and include presentations by dietician Darlene Durant, physiotherapist Erin Duffy and pharmacist Ashley Creighton.
Besides using the hospital, some of the sessions will be held at the Cumberland YMCA.
Along with being informative, the program also gives support in that it includes others with heart disease.
"Being supported through the journey of gaining control over condition is one of the key parts of the program," she said. "There's information in the program that will help everyone in identifying the risk factors and taking a snapshot of themselves. It's not rocket science or anything. It's taking a look at yourself and taking small steps at first and building on those over time."
Brochures are available at pharmacies in Amherst and at all district health sites in Cumberland County as well as family doctors. People can refer themselves or be referred by their family doctor.
Boiduk can be reached at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre at 667-5400 ext. 6377.