Free screenings, exhibits and lectures focused on healthy hearts

It’s the truth; heart attacks are common in the south. So common that the Fort Smith area has the second highest rate of heart attacks in the country, according to a Gallup-Healthways annual well-being study.

“If you look at the other 49 states, the incidence and death rates of heart attacks are getting lower. People are changing their habits, but in Arkansas it is getting worse,” said Dr. Nasser Adjei, M.D., an interventional cardiologist at the Cardiology Center at Sparks.

Sparks Health System is hosting a free event aimed at changing those statistics. “The Heart Truth: A Sparks Health System Community Experience” will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Fort Smith Convention Center. Free screenings including blood pressure, body mass index, diabetes and cholesterol HDL and LDL levels, including a lipids profile, will be provided for 200 pre-registered participants.

Dr. Adjei was inspired to spearhead the event after Fort Smith was featured in a USA Today article about cities that have the most heart attacks. “It made me sad in a way. We have a small town with nice people, and we stand out for this?”

Local organizations and businesses will also be on hand during the event to share nutrition and fitness options in the area. A symposium with local doctors and emergency medical staff will touch on topics ranging from symptoms of heart attack and peripheral artery disease to what you can do to reduce your risk. Participants will also be given a chance to ask questions. And though the screenings are filled, we encourage community members to visit the seminar and exhibits.

Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders, Sen. Bruce Holland, R-Ark., and Rep. George McGill, D-Ark., are among the city and state leaders expected to attend the event and show their support in improving the heart health of our area. The "Heart Truth" event is aimed at helping people identify heart problems before they have a heart attack and encouraging community participation. “It’s a beginning,” Dr. Adjei said. “We need more of these things to wake people up.”

Sparks Health System includes Sparks Regional Medical Center, Sparks Clinic, Sparks Home Health, Sparks PremierCare and the fully hospital-integrated Marvin Altman Fitness Center.  Summit Medical Center in Van Buren, Ark., is a sister facility of Sparks Health System.  For more information about Sparks Health System, visit