Tag Archives: Cardiovascular Disease

Let’s commit to improving South Carolinians’ heart health

By Lilian Peake, MD
Director, Health Services

Cardiovascular disease is a leading killer of South Carolinians and many of these deaths are avoidable. Communities, employers, health professionals and families can all play a role in preventing this disease.

This is particularly important in South Carolina: In 2015, there were more than 50,000 hospitalizations for heart disease, at a cost of more than $3.2 billion.

South Carolina’s heart disease death rate is above the national average and higher than our neighbors, North Carolina and Georgia. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s State Health Facts, in 2014 the heart disease death rate in the United States was 167 per 100,000 people. In South Carolina the death rate is 8 percent higher than the US rate and 14 percent higher than in North Carolina (181.1, compared to 158.7).

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Dr. Lilian Peake

There are also disparities among groups affected. For example, the rate among African-Americans outpaces all others. The Palmetto State also has high rates of the conditions that lead to this disease, such as obesity and diabetes.

Much work has been done in an effort to turn the tide. We at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) consider our role key to helping achieve the level of improvement needed. Our vision is “Healthy people living in healthy communities.”

DHEC works with numerous community partners to improve cardiovascular health for all.

We assist in implementing CDC-recognized diabetes prevention programs and train lifestyle coaches.

DHEC also offers a heart disease and stroke prevention program called WISEWOMAN. This is offered at no cost to eligible women ages 40 to 64. Women are screened for high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity; they obtain medical follow-up and referrals for abnormal screening results as well as referrals to free or low-cost community programs, such as workout classes, diabetes education, and free sessions with a personal health coach.

DHEC partners with the SC Institute of Medicine and Public Health to facilitate the implementation of the state’s Obesity Action Plan through the SCaledown initiative.

We work with communities to encourage policies, systems and environmental changes that lead to improved access to healthy foods and active lifestyles. One example is the Farm to Institution program where we partner with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education. We educate the public, partner with health systems, and design wellness programs statewide.

DHEC also funds the Quitline to help South Carolinians quit smoking.

Other organizations, including the South Carolina Hospital Association, the South Carolina Chapter of the American Heart Association, A Million Hearts, the South Carolina Medical Association, the Heart2Heart Foundation and more are also doing admirable work in an effort to address this important health issue.

But there is much more work to do. We need your help. You too play an important role in improving heart health in South Carolina. And what better time to get started than this month — American Heart Month?

So what are some things you can do?

  • Commit to a healthy lifestyle — exercise daily, eat healthier and take medication as prescribed.
  • Stop Call 800-Quit-NOW for free nicotine patches, gum or lozenges to eligible South Carolinians.
  • Become a WISEWOMAN participant if eligible; call 800-227-2345 to see if you qualify.
  • Have your blood pressure checked.
  • Create physical activities such as walking or group exercise at work.

Obviously, there are many more actions we can take as employers, health care providers or families. With the right level of commitment, we can improve heart health in South Carolina. Will you help?

American Heart Month

By Tiffany A. Mack, MPH, CHES, CGW
SC PHASE Program Administrator
Division of Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity & School Health

February is not only the month of love in which we celebrate Valentine’s Day, it is also American Heart Month. Raising awareness about heart health is key to combating heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm), each year more than 600,000 Americans die of heart disease, which accounts for 1 in every 4 deaths in the country.

Why heart health?

The heart is one of the most vital organs of the human body.  This muscle pumps blood through the circulatory system and supplies nutrients and oxygen to the tissues of the body.  Damage to the heart through poor lifestyle habits such as smoking, physical inactivity and diets rich in sodium and saturated fats can cause the heart to not function properly and result in heart disease.

Adults who suffer from chronic conditions have a much higher risk of developing heart disease.  Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease than adults without diabetes; people with uncontrolled high blood pressure are three times more likely to die of heart disease; and people with high blood cholesterol have about twice the risk of developing heart disease than people with lower levels (source: DHEC Chronic Disease Epidemiology State of the Heart Fact Sheet, www.scdhec.gov/Library/ML-002149.pdf).

It is important to know that there are many ways heart disease can be prevented and treated to maintain a normal lifestyle, and prevent premature death and disability.

What is DHEC doing?

DHEC’s Division of Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and School Health received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to focus on preventing obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke in 15 of the 46 counties in South Carolina.  The division is partnering with medical practices to adopt and implement policies and protocols for the improvement of patient health outcomes related to high blood pressure.

What can you do?

One of the best ways to celebrate American Heart Month is to get involved.  Know your numbers. Get routine screenings by your primary care physician to include checking blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels.

  • Eat smart. Reduce your sodium intake, and adding more fruits and veggies to your diet.
  • Move more. Add just 10 minutes of moderate activity twice a day.
  • At work you can go for a walk, take the stairs and/or bring a healthy snack to share with your colleagues.
  • Encourage your family and friends to follow your lead by practicing healthier habits for life.

There are many partner organizations that are participating in American Heart Month by conducting awareness and outreach events.  The Heart2Heart Foundation  has been hosting a Statewide Screening Day initiative.  This event was created through a collaboration with the Governor’s Office and SC DHEC.  Please visit StatewideScreeningDay.com and share this with your friends so they can take advantage of these free screenings!

For the remaining days of American Heart Month — and beyond — commit to learning about what you can do to promote heart health and raise awareness about heart disease and heart disease prevention.

More Information:

If you would like more information regarding heart disease and heart healthy tips, visit the DHEC website (www.scdhec.gov/Health/DiseasesandConditions/HeartDiseaseStroke/HeartDisease/) the CDC website (cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm) or the American Heart Association website (heart.org/HEARTORG/).

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

By Johnese Bostic, Health Equity and Disparities Consultant

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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

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