Saving a Million Hearts - March 2012
Do you know your ABCS? No, not the alphabet you learned in school. I'm talking about four key steps that can help reduce deaths from heart disease and stroke.
In fact, if we all knew and followed these ABCS we could reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes—two of our leading causes of death—by a million in the whole country over the next five years. That would be almost 62,000 fewer heart attacks and strokes in New York. Imagine that.
We're doing more than imagining it; we're at work making it happen.
We're joining with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Million Hearts Initiative that is getting everyone to pay more attention to four key ABCS:
- Aspirin use
- Blood pressure control
- Cholesterol management
- Smoking cessation.
Cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke and related diseases) is the leading cause of death in New York, accounting for more than 30 percent of all deaths. Our prescription for keeping you and your loved ones from becoming heart attack and stroke statistics means we're working on many fronts and we want you to join us.
Our prescription starts with encouraging you to talk to your doctor to make sure you know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. If they're high, work with your doctor to get them into the healthy range. Make sure to ask your doctor whether aspirin is a good idea for you as a possible heart attack prevention; it's not right for everyone.
There's no mincing words—smoking kills and we want to help you to stop.
You've probably already seen our ads encouraging people to stop smoking. They are often quite graphic and pack an emotional punch. That's because we know ads like that get your attention and can help convince you to quit.
Many of you have taken advantage of our counseling and nicotine patch programs available through the New York State Smokers Quitline (1-866-NY-Quits).
We've made a lot of progress getting people to quit; we're working to get more New Yorkers to do the same. Quit--You can save money at the same time you're saving your life.
Reducing Salt Use
It's not enough to pass on the salt shaker anymore.
Sodium (salt) can lead to high blood pressure for some people. The problem is that most of the sodium we get is "hidden" in foods like breads, deli meats, pizza, soup and restaurant meals.
We've got programs going across the state to find the best ways to reduce sodium in school meals, grocery stores, meals served to seniors and meals served at worksites.
To reduce the salt in your diet, read food labels. Most people need less than 2,300 mg a day, yet most of us get far more.
If you eat out, look for low-sodium options and tell restaurants that you want low- salt meals. Pass on the salt shaker when cooking or eating at home.
While You're at Work
Most of us spend the better part of each day at work. Helping to make those offices, factories, stores and schools healthier places is part of our prescription for helping New Yorkers stay healthy.
We're working with employers around the state to increase chances for workers to eat healthier foods and to be physically active. Employers are also offering smoking cessation programs and health risk appraisals -- all with a focus on improving those ABCS described earlier.
While You're Home
We're also working in your communities to increase chances for physical activity and healthier food choices.
We're funding projects to create community gardens so your neighbors can not only have fresh, healthy vegetables, but also get some exercise bringing the tomatoes, peas and squash to the table.
You might not believe it, but there are deserts in New York. Not the kind with sand and camels, but areas in communities where there are no stores selling fresh, nutritious foods.
We're working to turn these "food deserts" into oases with new stores, farmers markets and other ideas to bring fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods to areas where they are in short supply.
We're also focusing on making it easier and safer for people to get outside for work and play. That means funding projects to build sidewalks, put up lights and expand parks, trails and recreation areas.
So, our prescription for reducing heart attack and stroke includes a healthy dose of funding for community projects and also needs your participation in "learning" your health ABCS.
- Learn more about heart disease and stroke
- Learn more about New York State programs and tools to address cardiovascular health
- Learn more about the risk factors for cardiovascular disease
- Learn more about sodium in foods-Vital Signs: Food Categories Contributing the Most to Sodium Consumption — United States, 2007–2008-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Where's the sodium? There's too much in many common foods- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Learn more about the Million Hearts campaign