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American Heart Month: A Heart-to-Heart with CSP Health Sciences Faculty


Academics, General News

It’s American Heart Month, and even if there are only a few days left in February, it’s important to note the importance of our heart in our health and wellbeing. Concordia University, St. Paul offers programs in health sciences including exercise science and, new as of this past spring, an associate’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography. 

Dr. Lana Huberty works as an associate professor of kinesiology and health sciences at CSP. She has expertise in health and wellness accompanied by 25 years of physical training. In addition, she has attained professional credentials in LMI, PHI, NETA, and Yogafit. According to the CDC website,  “610,000 Americans die from heart diseases every year – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths,” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). Dr. Huberty reiterated this fact. When thinking of ways to prevent heart disease, people commonly think of a lifestyle that involves things like vigorous exercise and dieting, but Dr. Huberty says it extends beyond even that scope. 

The keyword here is ‘lifestyle.’ This means making a combination of healthy behavior decisions every day, not just about what you eat or what physical activity you may do, but everything that impacts your wellness from spirituality, to mental health, to occupational, to physical health,” explained Dr. Huberty.

To better understand the human body, one must delve beneath the surface, which is precisely what Concordia’s new Diagnostic Medical Sonography program is doing. 

Ultrasound is deemed the golden standard of imaging because it is the least harmful to patients (no radiation), most cost-effective, and you can get quick results,” said Jennifer Zafke, Program Director of Sonography at CSP. “In the last 20-30 years, the field has grown so much in technology and what we can use ultrasound for.”

Launched this past spring, Concordia offers a general concentration and an echo concentration, which focuses specifically on the heart. Running the echo concentration is Heidi Goblirsch. Heidi works as an Echo lab supervisor at United Hospital in St. Paul, which is part of the Minneapolis Heart Institute with Allina. According to Goblirsch, some of the most important bulk of their work comes from doing what she calls “preventative testing.” This means using ultrasound to scan the human heart for abnormalities or issues such as diastolic heart failure, which is a heart that can’t properly relax, systolic heart failure, or pericardial effusions, or fluid outside of the heart. 

The reason there is a separate concentration solely for reading the heart is due to the organ’s complexity and importance within the human body. Goblirsch says that students looking to go into such a field should prepare to work in environments like the OR (during open-heart surgeries), Catheterization laboratories, and general hospital settings. When working with patients who have potentially life-threatening diseases, the work can be, at times, rather difficult. However, healthcare professionals like Goblirsch love the challenges such a career can provide. To her, the work is also gratifying.

“I love being able to use the sciences and our skill sets to answer a cardiac question all while being alongside patients,” she said. “We take pride in providing quality exams for our patients. Our exams change slightly based on what we find so I also enjoy the critical thinking while we piece together the cardiac question at hand. This career allows for patient involvement as well as applied sciences and technology both of which are always exciting.”