Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Heart Truth About Women in South Carolina

By Cassandra Harris

Midlands Regional Staff

Midlands Regional staff celebrate National Wear Red Day.

Members of our DHEC Midlands team went red this month in a stand against heart disease in women.  Responsible for over 23,000 hospitalizations for women in South Carolina in 2013, with total costs reaching more than $1.2 billion, heart disease is an issue we can’t afford to lose.

Killing 4,351 women in the Palmetto State during 2013, heart disea​se is the second leading cause of death for all women in our state and the leading killer for African-American women. In 2013 alone, 1,216 African-American women died from the disease in South Carolina.

Many people who are at high risk for heart disease don’t know it. By understanding and working to control certain risk factors you can help prevent this disease. Heart yourself, learn the ABC’S to a healthy heart:

  • Appropriate Aspirin therapy
  • Blood pressure control
  • Cholesterol control
  • And Smoking cessation.

In addition to learning your ABC’S, taking steps toward living a healthier lifestyle, like eating healthy and exercising regularly, can help protect your heart health and keep your mind and body active. Make a commitment to change today and prevent heart disease tomorrow. ​

For more information about women and heart disease in South Carolina, go to

S.C. Youth Help Raise Awareness About Radon

By Cassandra Harris

You can’t see or smell radon, but there might be a silent killer in your home. Linked to more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the nation and the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Helping to raise awareness of the health effects of radon, South Carolina students, ages nine to 14, recently submitted artwork as part of the 2015 S.C. Radon Poster Contest.

Selected from schools across the state, the students’ posters urge adults to test for radon and fix their homes when necessary. A total of 13 posters were selected to be included in the 2015 S.C. Radon Awareness Calendar. Announced at an award ceremony on January 21, 2015, at the S.C. State Museum in Columbia, this year’s contest winners include:

  • Gracie Driggers, Spaulding Elementary (1st Place)
  • Elizabeth Parrish, Forestbrook Middle School (2nd Place)
  • Andrea Martinez, Horse Creek Academy (3rd Place)
  • Colin Sauceda, Forestbrook Middle School (Honorable Mention)
  • Elizabeth Truluck, Myrtle Beach High School (Honorable Mention)
  • Sebastian O’Banion, Kennedy Middle School
  • Daylund Aistrop, Belton Middle School
  • Trinity Lincoln, Belton Middle School
  • Mellie Driggers, Spaulding Elementary
  • Destiny Garrido, CE Murray High School
  • Arden Kirk, Forestbrook Middle School
  • Anna Walker, Forestbrook Middle School
  • Serena Wallace, Ocean Bay Middle School

The top three entries were entered into the 2015 National Radon Poster Contest as part of National Radon Action Month.

Congratulations to all of our contest winners! Your artwork is currently displayed in local DHEC offices around the state and is helping to make a difference in the way South Carolinians think about radon.

To get more information on radon, to view the calendar and posters, or to request a free home test kit, visit

“Let’s Have a Heart to Heart about Cardiovascular Disease in African Americans”

By Johnese Bostic, Health Equity and Disparities Consultant


The leading cause of death and disability in the United States and South Carolina, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a broad term for a range of diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels. Impacting the structure and function of the heart, CVD includes coronary heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and other diseases of the vein.

Heart disease and stroke are a real burden for South Carolina. During 2012, heart disease was the second leading cause of death in our state, resulting in the passing of more than 9, 200 South Carolinians. The fourth leading cause of death was stroke, resulting in more than 2,300 deaths.

So, why do we need a heart to heart about cardiovascular disease in African Americans?

African Americans are at a greater risk for developing heart disease and suffer from more stroke- related deaths than other ethnicities.

  • More than 2, 440 African Americans in South Carolina died of heart disease in 2012 alone
  • The stroke death rate of African Americans in South Carolina was 13% higher than the 2010 national stroke death rate for African Americans
  • African Americans are more than 46% more likely to die from stroke than Whites in South Carolina

Continue reading

No Measles Cases in South Carolina

By Jennifer Read, Public Health Outreach Director

measlesBy now you’ve likely heard about the measles outbreak associated with travel to Disneyland in California. CDC is reporting 102 measles cases so far this year in multiple states, most of them stemming from the Disneyland outbreak that began in late December 2014. The vast majority of these cases occurred among individuals who had not been vaccinated.

Here in South Carolina, we’re fortunate that no cases of measles have been reported to DHEC. In fact, a review of our current and historical records shows there have not been any instances of measles in South Carolina as far back as 1999.

Measles is among the most contagious diseases known. It is transmitted by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. After an infected person leaves a location, the measles virus remains alive for up to 2 hours on surfaces and in the air.

There are countries where measles is still active and unvaccinated travelers returning from one of these countries could become infected and bring measles back to the U.S. Thus, the concern for outbreaks is related to transmission to people in our communities who are not adequately vaccinated.

From a public health perspective, the current outbreak underscores the ongoing risk of measles and the importance of getting vaccinated to protect yourself and your family. The measles (MMR) vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the measles and to prevent potential outbreaks.

The MMR vaccine is recommended for all infants at 12 months of age and is a requirement to attend day care or school in South Carolina. Based on school reports to DHEC for 778,588 students on the 45th day of school for the current school year (2014-15), most South Carolina students were up to date on all their vaccines; 5,826 (0.75%) students had a religious exemption and 1,540 (0.2%) students had a medical exemption.

Our Division of Acute Disease Epidemiology will continue to monitor the national outbreak and have sent out a CDC Health Advisory through our Health Alert Network to help keep health care providers, school nurses and our partners updated on this national outbreak investigation.

If you haven’t been vaccinated against the measles, DHEC encourages you to talk to your health care provider.