The International Medical Outreach Program (IMO), a collaboration between Atrium Health and Heineman Medical Outreach, Inc., joined Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) hosted the Second Annual Heart of Belize Community Outreach event, for cardiac screenings for rheumatic heart disease and other heart abnormalities.

Last year the event was held in Belize City.  This year, the program spread its wings and ventured to the rural areas of Santa Elena and Dangriga.  Rheumatic heart disease is a chronic condition caused by rheumatic fever that affects the heart valve. If left untreated, it can lead to heart failure and death. Youth at risk received an EKG test or a cardiac echocardiography scan on-site, and all youth were encouraged to learn more about heart health at an education station. All screenings were free to participants.

Despite the pouring rain, almost 100 people were screened in Santa Elena and received education about heart valve disease, healthy lifestyle and nutrition.  The event in Dangriga was held at the Stann Creek Ecumenical Junior College, where approximately 65 people were screened.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Belize, particularly rheumatic heart disease.  This event provides an outlet for the public, particularly the underserved, to be screened and educated on the risks of rheumatic heart disease, giving way to early detection and thus saving lives.

Dr. Adrian Coye, chief executive officer and practicing heart surgeon at KHMH, performed the advanced heart screenings, along with Oscar Flores, echosonographer from UNICAR in Guatemala City. Seven nursing students from Carolinas College of Health Sciences, part of Atrium Health, also participated and helped with the initial screening of Belizean patients. The event was supported in part by Edwards Lifesciences Foundation’s Every Heart Beat Matters campaign.

These services have been possible through the donation of medical equipment by Atrium Health’s International Medical Outreach (IMO) program, a collaboration with the Heineman Medical Outreach, Inc.