This may sound like an oxymoron, but Maui’s annual Heart Failure Event is always a big success. Its name catches your attention, and it pumps you up with a wealth of Heart Disease prevention information as well as how best to care for that vital organ when it is already at risk.

Free and open to the public, the fifth annual event will be held from 4 to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 11, at Maui Memorial Medical Center in Wailuku.

“The event is open to both the Maui and the Lanai communities,” says coordinator Leslie Lexier, who also serves as Quality Management Data Analyst Registered Nurse at MMMC. “All are welcome — young and old.Information is provided on heart health with a focus on heart failure.”

The educational afternoon kicks off its first hour in the hospital’s shady courtyard, inviting with lots of tropical foliage and eye-catching sculptures. You and your ‘ohana may enjoy complimentary hands-on activities, live entertainment, prizes and photos at the selfie station. Heart-healthy refreshments prepared by Executive Chef Greg Gaspar will be served. It’s ADA accessible and valet parking at the main entrance is a complimentary convenience as well.

From 5 to 6:30 p.m., the event moves into the MMMC Auditorium, where esteemed guest speakers will offer their expert opinions on matters of the heart. Listen to Kaiser Permanente Cardiologists Dr. Kimble Poon and Dr. Jay Parikh and Physician Assistant Nicole Dusenbury along with Dr. Anil Punjabi, Cardiologist and owner of Ohana Heart LLC.

“After the formal guest speaking, we open it up for audience questions, which is very popular,” says Lexier. “Every year we see greater attendance. We love offering educational community events at the hospital.  Our facility also offers other educational events on topics such as stroke and diabetes, which are very well attended.”

Maui Memorial Medical Center’s heart program has been recognized nationally for 10 years by the American Heart Association for the quality care of heart failure patients.

“We are nationally recognized for the care that we give here at MMMC,” Lexier continues. “We are the only hospital in the state of Hawaii to receive the American Heart Association Gold Plus Target Heart Failure Honor Roll award. We are featured in the US News and World Report magazine as one of the best hospitals in the nation.”

February is recognized nationally as “Heart Month,” and we encourage everyone to educate yourself about the risks of heart disease and what you can do now to avoid heart disease (and heartache) in the future.

Heart disease variations include dilated cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, myocardial infarction, coronary artery disease, valvular HD, aortic aneurysm and all-out heart failure, the latter often due to stroke. Fortunately, some types of heart disease are preventable.

With heart disease as the top cause of death in Hawaii and across the nation, prevention should be number one on your list when it comes to taking care of your heart.

Maui’s newest cardiologist, Dr. Anil Punjabi, recommends regular doctor appointments as well as regular exercise, among other changes to diet and lifestyle, to keep heart disease at bay.  

“The more exercise, the better,” says Punjabi, who walks up and down the steep hill multiple times a day from his Ohana Heart clinic located at Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic to Maui Memorial Medical Center. “There are so many opinions on how many steps to take. I say walk at least 10,000 steps a day — and get your heartbeat up at least four times a week for 20 minutes at a time.” (The target heart rate is 70-80% of 220 minus your age.)

Born in Philadelphia to family-practitioner doctor parents, the slim and fit physician also advises that we should avoid fast food, quit smoking, manage stress, and eat more fresh and unprocessed fruits and vegetables.

“Cut out refined sugars,” he continues. “Stay away from saturated and trans fats, and red meat. Replace coconut oil and butter with high polyunsaturated fat-based oils. Read food labels. It’s important. See your doctor regularly for health checkups — and that way if you have any problems you can get diagnosed in a timely fashion.”

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is often referred to as the “silent killer” because you may not feel it until you develop side effects such as a stroke, heart failure or kidney disease. Diabetics also have a high incidence of strokes and heart attacks. Statistics show that there are 460,000 Hawaii residents with prediabetes — and 90 percent don’t know that they currently are suffering from it.

“See your doctor soon if you notice a reading above 140 systolic and 100 diastolic (140/100) blood pressure,” he says. “It can sometimes be an emergency is if you have headaches or you develop a blood pressure of 190 systolic over 120 diastolic (190/120).”

Dr. Punjabi received his Medical Degree from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in California; completed his Internal Medicine Residency at the Cornell Campus of New York Presbyterian Hospital, worked at his parents’ family practice in Philadelphia, and completed a Cardiology fellowship in Boston.

“I moved here in September of 2018 with my OB-GYN wife, Dr. Trina Chakravarty, who works for Maui Lani Physicians and Surgeons,” says Punjabi. “It’s been exciting.”

Dr. Punjabi reads EKGs and stress tests and takes calls for patients who don’t have a cardiologist at the hospital. If needed, he refers patients to the best heart surgeons possible.

For more information on educational events, visit

To find a cardiologist in Maui County, click here.