Illini Heartbeats promotes heart health

Alpha Phi volunteers attended the Go Red for Women event to help spread awareness of the increased risk of heat disease in women. Photo courtesy of Ben Goold

Alpha Phi volunteers attended the Go Red for Women event to help spread awareness of the increased risk of heat disease in women. Photo courtesy of Ben Goold

By April Dahlquist

The Illini Heartbeats is far from flatlined.

This small but active club is working to makes its events bigger in order to further promote their goal of educating the campus and community about heart disease.

The Heartbeats are affiliated with the American Heart Association, so many of the events are either directly related to the association or the Heartbeats will donate funds to them from the events. The club’s next event is the Champaign County Heart Walk at Parkland on Sept. 27. The group is volunteering to run a CPR booth, where one of the certified Heartbeat members will give basic CPR classes every half hour.

They will also be helping out in the “kids zone” area and running a women’s booth, which will help educate women on the importance of heart scans.

Women’s symptoms for a heart attack aren’t as obvious as a man’s symptoms. The scan will help diagnose poor cardiovascular fitness, said co-president and senior in LAS, Alle Suehl.

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    “I’m excited to be with all the people who care about this,” volunteer coordinator and junior in LAS Puja Patel said. “This is such an important issue and we have to get it out there.”

    The Heartbeats also go out to local elementary schools once a month to educate students about heart disease.

    “Good habits need to start young,” Suehl said. “If you get used to not exercising or eating a ton of fast food, it’s going to be hard to change that in your 20s and 30s.”

    The group brings in healthy snacks and worksheets promoting good eating habits to the kids and also does one physical activity with the kids to get them moving around.

    This year the Illini Heartbeats’ goal is to have greater attendance at their campus-wide scavenger hunt in the spring called Hunt for Heart. The event is a photo scavenger hunt where participants look all around campus for certain landmarks in hopes of winning a prize. The entry cost fees are donated to the American Heart Association and the hunt as a whole is a good way to get students moving and their blood pumping.

    The group will aim to start advertising earlier in hopes of doubling the number of participants from last year.

    “The scavenger hunt is a good way to start taking action earlier and being aware of heart health,” Patel said.

    Along with numerous blood drives, the group is also trying to plan a 5K run for the spring.

    In all, the group just plans to have events that promote the fitness of the heart. Usually this means exercising but wine tasting and dark chocolate eating are never off the list for the Heartbeats.

    “I try to eat as healthy as I can and I walk everywhere to class even though I live off campus,” Angeline Maloney, co-president and senior in AHS, said.

    Though they have many members on their e-mail list, the group only has about 20 active members. Maloney said she has an inkling Heartbeats isn’t the most popular organization due to the fact that many other health clubs exist. However, the important thing is that people are healthy, Maloney said.

    “There are so many other health clubs out there,” Suehl said. “But we’re all united in a similar front and that is healthier lives.”