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A Healthier Future for West Virginia - Healthy People 2010
Federal 2010 Initiative
12 - Heart Disease and Stroke
Heart disease has not been conquered. Although we've won a few battles against heart disease, we are still losing the war. Dramatic technological and medical advances are saving and extending the lives of people with heart disease, but not curing them of it. As a result, more people are living with heart disease than ever before. While medical intervention is important in managing heart disease, a more effective strategy would be preventing heart disease in the first place.
Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in both the United States and West Virginia, while stroke continues as the third leading cause of death. Together they account for approximately 40% of all deaths.
Population-based prevention is the next strategy to win the war against heart disease. Prevention includes widely promoting heart-healthy lifestyle changes to the total community and creating social, environmental, and policy changes that support heart health.
People's individual lifestyle choices are partly mediated by their environments, including policies that help shape their environments. Access to safe walking areas, open recreation facilities in every community, clean indoor air policies, and the availability of low-cost, healthy, good-tasting foods are critical to helping people make the decision to embrace physical activity, a tobacco-free lifestyle, and a heart-healthy diet. In addition, ensuring that preventive health protocols are established and reimbursed through third party payers is instrumental to the prevention of cardiovascular disease. We must increase opportunities for healthy behaviors by creating policies in our community systems, health care systems, and other systems that support the promotion of health.Top of Page
Data Source: West Virginia Bureau for Public Health (WVBPH), Office of Epidemiology and Health Promotion (OEHP), Health Statistics Center (HSC)
Since 1950, age-adjusted death rates from cardiovascular disease (CVD) have declined 60%. However, the overall decline masks important differences in death rates by race/ethnicity, sex, socioeconomic status, and geographic region. In addition, risk factors for heart disease such as obesity and physical inactivity are at an all-time high (see Chapter 19: Nutrition & Overweight and Chapter 22: Physical Activity & Fitness).
Data Source: WVBPH, OEHP, HSC
Stroke is a cardiovascular disease that affects the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain. It is one of the leading causes of serious, long-term disability. Death rates for heart disease and stroke from 1986-95 were higher among African Americans in West Virginia than among Caucasians.
Data Source: WVBPH, OEHP, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)
High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects more than 50 million Americans and is a major cause of heart disease, stroke, complications of diabetes, and heart and kidney failure. Hypertension is a complex mix of environmental and genetic factors. It is not known exactly how many causal factors there are or how they interact with each other. However, based on present knowledge, high blood pressure and its sequelae can be controlled effectively.
African-American Behavioral Risk Factor Survey respondents interviewed from 1992-96 in West Virginia were more likely (40.5%) to report having high blood pressure than either Caucasians in West Virginia (26.7%) or African Americans in the nation as a whole (31.0%).
DataSource: WVBPH, OEHP, BRFSS
At least 39% of the coronary heart disease in the United States is attributable to elevated total cholesterol (or hypercholesterolemia). Hypercholesterolemia is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, which leads to heart attack.
Data Source: PEIA Pathways to Wellness Program
The Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) Pathways to Wellness Program is working to promote healthier lifestyles for every PEIA member. There are currently over 100 public worksites enrolled. Health risk assessments are offered voluntarily and include cholesterol screenings.
Data Source: WVBPH, OEHP, BRFSS
Cardiovascular disease, particularly coronary heart disease and stroke,
remains the leading killer of women in America and most developed countries.
In 1994, CVD claimed the lives of more than one-half million women and
accounted for 45.2% of all deaths among women, more than all forms of
cancer combined. Misperceptions still exist that CVD is not a real problem
for women, although it is estimated that one in two women will eventually
die of heart disease or stroke, compared with one in 25 who will eventually
die of breast cancer.
Meeting the Objectives
Health Promotion Channels for Achieving Objectives:
As of July 1, 1999, the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health received a Core Capacity Grant for Cardiovascular Health from the CDC. This grant will allow the Bureau to expand its program and begin to build capacity to address cardiovascular health for West Virginia. This grant is a cooperative agreement and continued funding will be contingent on federal appropriations.
Members of the Cardiovascular Health Steering Committee came together on November 3, 1999, and agreed to provide leadership for state efforts, develop and endorse the state plan, coordinate statewide activities, and assist in building public and legislative support for cardiovascular disease prevention and control efforts. Organizations represented on this Steering Committee include:
American Heart Association
To address the racial and ethnic disparities in heart disease mortality, the WV Bureau for Public Health and the West Virginia Coalition for Minority Health (comprised of individuals who live and work in the African-American community) collaborate to develop culturally appropriate strategies. This partnership has resulted in several church and community-based interventions promoting increased physical activity, good nutrition, and the elimination of tobacco use.
As systems for cardiovascular health surveillance are developed, further assessments of cardiovascular health in our state will be identified. This will enable us to assess our target audiences, develop inventories of policies and environments that promote cardiovascular health, and allow our partners to develop appropriate strategies to intervene. West Virginia's Cardiovascular Health Plan will be developed to meet the Healthy People 2010 Objectives related to the promotion of heart health. Release of the Cardiovascular Health Plan is scheduled for June 2001.Top of Page
Work Group Members
Jessica G. Wright, RN, MPH, CHES, Work Group Leader, Director
of Chronic Disease Programs, Division of Health Promotion, WVBPH
American Heart Association. High Blood Pressure Statistics. Dallas, TX: 1998.
Barnett E et al. Women and Heart Disease: An Atlas of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Mortality. Morgantown, WV: Office for Social Environment and Health Research, West Virginia University, December 1999.
Langer R et al. Cardiovascular Disease in Women: A Statement for Health Care Professionals from the American Heart Association. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association, 1997.
Pearson T et al. "Optimal risk factor
West Virginia Bureau for Public Health. West
For More Information
Cardiovascular Health Program
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This page was last updated June 14s, 2001.