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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: February 14, 2014


DOVER (February 11, 2014) - As Valentine's Day approaches, remember to love your own heart as well as your loved ones'. Now is a good time to get a heart check-up and make heart healthy lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 49 percent of U.S. adults have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke such as high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol or smoking.

Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke combined), is the number one leading cause of death in Delaware. Many Delawareans at high risk for heart attack or stroke are unaware of their risk. While anyone can be at risk for heart disease or stroke, African Americans and older persons are at higher risk. Million Hearts Delaware is part of a national initiative to prevent, by 2017, one million of the nation's 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes that occur each year.

"High blood pressure is a silent killer," said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden in an interview posted to the Million Hearts Delaware website. "In fact, high blood pressure contributes to more than 1,000 deaths every day. Many patients don't realize that they have a problem. Registries and regular check-ins can address many of the problems that lead to uncontrolled blood pressure and avoidable heart attacks and strokes."

Million Hearts Delaware strives to prevent the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, by reminding people to follow the "ABCS": Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation.

"We are focusing on ABCS as an easy-to-remember pathway to better health," said Dr. Edward Goldenberg, chair of the Million Hearts Delaware Campaign and medical director of Cardiovascular Prevention with the Christiana Care Health System. "The future of health care depends more upon prevention than treatment. Sometimes the old cliches are true; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Delaware Division of Public Health Director (DPH) Dr. Karyl T. Rattay recommends adopting these lifestyle behaviors for optimum heart health, and for adult Delawareans to know their numbers:

To improve cardiovascular health, DPH promotes healthy living strategies, such as regular doctor's visits, smoking cessation, healthy food choices, monitoring blood pressure, managing your diabetes, and regular physical activity.

"There are many things that Delawareans can do to prevent their risk of heart disease and stroke," Dr. Rattay said. "One of the most important things we can do is to not smoke or quit smoking, and avoid secondhand smoke. About 20 percent of Delaware adults still smoke. Also, reading menus for calories, saturated fat, sodium and carbohydrates is important so healthy options can be selected." Read DPH's Menu Labeling fact sheet at www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/menulabelpi.pdf

Added Jonathan Kirch of the American Heart Association, "Caring for your heart really means taking good care of yourself. Eating healthy and maintaining a healthy weight, enjoying regular vigorous activity and exercise, and managing the stresses of life well."

Million Hearts Delaware, launched in 2012, aligns the efforts of all Delaware hospitals, the American Heart Association, DPH, the Medical Society of Delaware, major employers and health care providers to combat cardiovascular disease. To access many resources such as videos and articles, visit the Million Hearts Delaware website at millionheartsde.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.