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Encourage Heart Health During February, American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month, an observance to increase our focus on cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of death in the United States and Alabama. CVD includes diseases that affect the heart or blood vessels, including heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), and stroke.

Consider these facts:

  • More than 1 in 3 U.S. adults have at least one type of CVD.
  • In 2018, the death rate from heart disease in Alabama was 275.6 per 100,000 population.
  • There were 13,473 deaths attributed to heart disease in Alabama in 2018.

Even though some risk factors such as family history cannot be changed, the good news is that other risk factors can be modified and controlled, which include the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Smoking
  • Marijuana use
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) offers several programs that educate the public about reducing risk factors for heart health. For example, the department’s Cardiovascular Health Program works to increase self-monitoring of blood pressure and the awareness/management of hypertension and high blood cholesterol. ADPH has established and monitors 53 public blood pressure self-monitoring sites in 30 counties around the state. The sites include senior centers, public libraries, barber shops, recreation centers, independent pharmacies, and other public locations. Last year about 2,000 individuals measured their blood pressure more than 6,000 times at one or more of the ADPH sites.

The ADPH Alabama Diabetes Control Program focuses on clinical and community linkages to better support chronic disease management and prevention. Approximately 50 accredited/recognized Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support main sites and 21 Diabetes Prevention Program sites are available in Alabama. ADPH has offered facilitator trainings, a marketing workshop for program partners, and developed community health teams to support diabetes initiatives.

The Nutrition and Physical Activity Division implements nutrition and physical activity interventions, and promotes policy and environmental initiatives to increase the number of Alabamians who maintain a healthy weight, eat balanced meals, and are physically active. Dietary strategies, for example, include decreasing salt intake, reading labels, and increasing access to healthier foods.

In addition, the department’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program helps tobacco users quit, prevents youth and young adults from starting tobacco use, and protects people from exposure to secondhand smoke. ADPH encourages Alabama’s smokers to start a healthier, tobacco- and vape-free life with the help of the Alabama Tobacco Quitline. Alabama residents can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit quitnowalabama.com for free help.

To learn more about ways to lower the risk of CVD and for more information, visit alabamapublichealth.gov/cardio, alabamapublichealth.gov/npa, and alabamapublichealth.gov/tobacco/.

Scott Harris, M.D.
State Health Officer

(February 2019)

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Page last updated: January 31, 2020