February is American Heart Health Month, and one of Granite Falls Health’s newest additions is reminding people to get their heart checked out. Alfredo (Fred) Altamirano is a Certified Physician Assistant who started working at the Granite Falls Health Clinic in September of 2017.

Altamirano specializes in family practice, cardiology, and surgery (with an emphasis on vascular surgeries). Ever since witnessing a traumatic injury sustained by his brother while growing up in Douglas, Arizona, Altamirano has been interested in health care. “I was always intrigued by trauma, surgery, and the heart,” he explained.

Entering the medical profession, however, “was a long process.” Altamirano began the journey by joining the army at the age of 17. As an Army Field Medic and combat nurse, he learned how to handle high stress situations. Reflecting on his years in the service, Altamirano said “That was my opportunity, and when they offered me schooling, I seized it.”

Altamirano attended the military academy with his Physician Assistant degree and obtained his master degree in vascular surgery at the University of Nebraska. Afterwards, he established a private practice in Arizona, before moving around to different cities. Eventually, Altamirano ended up in Morris, where he currently lives with his wife Amanda and four daughters; Brianna, Celine, Ysela, and Lola Tay’lor.

He visits Granite Falls every Monday and Friday, and will soon add Wednesdays to his schedule. He has an emphasis on family health, and consequently sees a diverse range of patients. He is also fluent in Spanish, allowing him to better serve the region’s growing Latino population. In his freetime, Altamirano enjoys flying airplanes, cooking, and playing the guitar.

Altamirano hopes to get the word out about the importance of heart health during February. “Anybody who is experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, and dizziness should see a doctor. These symptoms are very common with heart problems,” he said. According to Altamirano, the most common causes for heart problems are a family history and diabetes. He also said that individuals over the age of 40 should see their doctor to see if they are at risk.

The most common risk factors that can be managed are: high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, obesity or overweight, lack of regular activity and high cholesterol. Risk factors that can’t be controlled include: age, gender, heredity, race, and history of previous stroke or heart attack.

To help promote good cardiovascular health, the Granite Falls Health Clinic is hosting Heart Health Day on February 21 from 8:30am until 6pm. The Granite Falls Health Clinic team will be on hand to assist with EKG’s, blood glucose testing, vital sign checks, and cardiovascular risk assessments. The event and services are free and open to the public. Please call 320-564-6200 to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins will also be welcomed.