Posts Tagged ‘heart disease’

Stroke Awareness Month

May 15th, 2014

TStrokes can cause long-term health problems and death.  The good news is that strokes can be prevented by understanding the risk factors (which are similar to heart disease) like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and tobacco.  To find out more about your risk for a stroke, you can talk with your physician and participate in Stroke Check this May, which is American Stroke Month.

Stroke Check is The American Stroke Association’s Arizona-founded program to encourage physicians, hospitals, and community service groups to utilize stroke risk assessment tools to perform free stroke screenings and increase awareness of stroke. The Stroke Check Program is free and you can find a screening program.

Quick pre-hospital and hospital interventions are critical once a stroke happens.  Remembering the acronym F.A.S.T can teach you the signs of stroke. F.A.S.T. stands for Face Drooping where one side of the face droops or it is numb; Arm Weakness where one arm is weak or numb; Speech Difficulty, when speech is slurred, the person is unable to speak or hard to understand; and finally Time to call 9-1-1. If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital straight-away.

For more resources you can visit our Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program.

The Top 5 Killers

May 14th, 2014

top-5-killersThe Top 5 things that kill people in the US are: heart disease, cancer, lung disease such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, stroke and injuries.  In fact- these 5 conditions cause 63% of all deaths in the US — which is nearly 18,000 people each year in AZ (about 50 people/day in AZ).

This week the CDC released its first report on potentially preventable deaths from those causes in each one of the 50 states. The data suggest we could prevent at least a third of those deaths.  We already know how to do it — now we need to act on what we know. Whether it’s by investing resources, using proven strategies or coordinating with health care systems, we have within our communities the strengths to help people live long and healthy lives. Even identifying and focusing on just one issue that can be addressed in each community will make a difference.

Tobacco use is a major factor in four out of the five leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung disease and stroke. It causes about a third of heart disease and cancer, and most emphysema. Getting the last 17% of Arizonans who still smoke to quit will make a huge difference in the length and quality of their lives.

We continue to make strides to get Arizonans to Kick the Habit.  Last year the adult smoking rate dropped 2 more percentage points…  going from 19% 2011 to 17% today.  Even more dramatic is the youth rate, which fell from 17% to 14%. We’ve had a 30% drop in our AZ youth smoking rate over the last 4 years meaning that there are 110,000 fewer kids smokers today than four years ago.

We developed a new strategic plan to improve the effectiveness of our smoking cessation resources via the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline.  A simple cost-effective campaign was created in 2010 that utilized ADHS staff as extras in their “Call Center” campaign, and it  has been very successful. The ASHLine also launched Project Quit…  which is our initiative designed to showcase the quit process.

Sugar, Sugar

February 19th, 2014

Sugar has been in the news with a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine that took a look at sugar intake and deaths from heart disease. The study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and included surveys from 1988 through 2010.  Some of the findings were things we already know, like most adults in the US consume too much sugar.   Some of the findings were new, like the risk of death from cardiovascular disease went up among people with higher sugar intakes, even when their overall diet was healthy.  In fact, comparing the people who ate little sugar to those who ate more, the risk of dying from heart disease more than doubled. 

The “big five” sources of sugar in the American diet are sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts like cookies and cakes, fruits drinks, dairy desserts including ice cream, and candy. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we keep our intake of sugars and solid fats to 5% to 15% of total calories. What does that mean for you? 

Find out by creating an individualized diet plan at  Be a “Champions for Change”  and look for new recipes that are low in sugar from the Arizona Nutrition Network.

Arizona’s First Ever State Health Assessment

February 13th, 2014

Today we published Arizona’s first ever comprehensive State Health Assessment. The objective of the State Health Assessment is to give Arizona’s public health and health care systems a clear tool to help drive future decision-making and resource allocation as we collectively design and implement evidence-based interventions to improve health and wellness outcomes across Arizona.  

The Assessment uses Arizona-specific data to assess the state of the public’s health in Arizona and has been a collaborative effort among all of the health departments in each AZ county as well as the ADHS.  The 15 priority health issues in the Report are obesity, tobacco use, substance abuse, healthcare associated infections, suicides, teen pregnancy, creating healthy communities, behavioral health services, diabetes, heart disease, other chronic diseases (cancer, respiratory disease, asthma), accidents and injuries, oral health, access to well care, and access to health insurance. 

Each public health indicator is summarized for its significance and scope, trending, and comparative analysis against national data.  The report also provides in-depth analysis for a number of indicators in each of Arizona’s 126 Community Health Analysis Areas. 

Please take time to look at the State Health Assessment and the county level community health assessments.  After you’re done, we’d appreciate hearing from you through the survey monkey as we take the next giant step to create Arizona’s first State Health Improvement Plan.

New Prevention Resources

February 6th, 2014

CDC’s 2013 Prevention Status Reports have just been released publicly on CDC’s website.  You’ll find reports specific to Arizona on topics like nutrition, physical activity, teen pregnancy, tobacco use, HIV, heart disease, motor vehicle crashes, and prescription drug abuse.  Reports include a few data indicators of how we compare to the U.S., as well as implementation of key policies related to the topics. The website has a Quick Start Guide, which gives tips and tools for using the reports.  The idea is to build an inventory of evidence-based public health practices and improve health outcomes. 

For Return on Investment information you can check out a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation  which has findings about increases in local public health spending associated with decreases in infant deaths, and deaths from cardiovascular disease.  Low-income communities experienced the greatest health and economic gains with increases in local public health spending. 

Also, the National Council on Aging recently put together a brief compiling the results from the national Chronic Disease Self-Management Program study.  The results included an impressive 21% improvement in depression, 13% improvement in number of days per week being moderately active, 12% improvement in medication compliance, and a $714 per person saving in emergency room visits and hospital utilization.

Arizona “Mission of Mercy” Starts Tomorrow

December 12th, 2013

Seems like anytime you hear a 100+ year old person being interviewed about the secret to long life they say “take care of your teeth and feet and drink cod liver oil”.  For good reason.  Good oral health is critical to a person’s overall health. Tooth decay and gum disease are linked with heart disease, stroke and diabetes, and premature births. Many people in our community can’t afford dental care, so they suffer from poor oral health that affects their ability to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch and eat. That’s why the Arizona Dental Mission of Mercy is such an important event for Arizona.  

The event provides free dental services to people in need. Last year about 2,000 people were able to get services. This year’s Mission of Mercy takes place December 13 and 14 at the Arizona Fairgrounds. There’ll be about 100 portable dental units and 1,500 volunteers that will provide more than $1M in free care to children and adults. 

We’re supporting the event through Title V funds and several of our staff volunteered to provide health information about our programs and services to the patients. Thanks to Sheila Sjolander, Wayne Tormala, Jennifer Botsford, Tiana Galindo, Mary Luc, Cristina Ochoa, Margaret Lindsay, Anita Betancourt, Kimberly O’Neill, Mohammed Khan, Sharon Jaycox, Karen Sell, America Coles, Mary Ellen Cunningham, Belen Herner, Matthew Roach, Brandy McMahon, Blanca Caballero, Michael Abbott, Julia Wacloff, and Chris Minnick for volunteering for the event. 

Also, thanks to Maricopa County Public Health for providing flu vaccinations to participants- and a huge thanks to Kevin Earle, the Executive Director of the Arizona Dental Association for his leadership in setting up this year’s Mission.

Trans Fats on the Way Out?

November 18th, 2013

The FDA made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (the primary dietary source of trans fat in processed foods) are not “generally recognized as safe” for use in food.  Their review of the research has led them to conclude that consuming trans fat raises LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and increases the risk of coronary heart disease. The FDA opened a 60-day comment period this week.  Folks can submit electronic comments and scientific data and information until January 7.

Sitting is the new smoking

October 23rd, 2013

Public health embarked on a smoking revolution over the last few decades, kicking it into high gear to provide programs and policies to help Arizonans change their smoking habits. While by no means has the tobacco battle been won, America is currently undergoing another revolution—a walking revolution. Physical activity is not new territory in public health. Public health professionals have been encouraging adults to achieve at least 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity per week.  Now, though, the public health world is taking a step back and promoting the simplest of physical activities: walking or biking. A recent study from Kansas State University looked at the association between sitting time and chronic diseases. The study found that people who sat for more than four hours per day were significantly more likely to report having a chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. 

The Surgeon General has started the “Everybody Walk” campaign, releasing a document entitled “A Walking Revolution: The moving making Americans Happier and Healthier,” developing a free App that tracks all aspects of your walk, and hinting at writing a call to action on walking. This call-to-action is being compared to the famous 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on the dangers of smoking, translating that message into the dangers of sitting. 

Here at ADHS we take an innovative approach to promote more walking and less sedentary behavior. Our focus is to create environments where the healthy choice, walking, is the easy choice. Our Empower program establishes policies in child care centers that decrease sedentary time and screen time, and increases physical activity of youngsters. The Arizona Nutrition Network has been infusing traditional nutrition education with physical activity. Community design initiatives have worked to establish environments where walking or riding a bike are the predominant means of transportation in a community, rather than driving a car. With walking being so simple, the question remains: how will you walk or bike today?


AZ Life Expectancy Pretty Good

September 16th, 2013

A new report from the CDC shows some good news for older adults in Arizona.  According to the report, people in Arizona have a life expectancy of more than 20 years after the age of 65, with 15 of those years healthy. This places Arizona as one of the top states in the nation for life expectancy, with a good quality of life in the later years of life.  Some of the reasons for the good health outcomes for older adults in the State are better injury prevention through education and programs and lower rates of chronic disease such as heart disease and some types of cancer. 

Our Healthy Aging Program has several resources for older adults in Arizona, including a Healthy Living Guide, reports on the health status of people 65 and older and links to events and agencies that provide services for older adults.  The Healthy Aging Program is looking to the future to develop a framework for addressing emerging health trends with older adults, which is a fast growing segment of our population. 

Some of the emerging issues are increased suicide attempts, sexually transmitted disease rates including HIV, and Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. We’ll be looking for ways to address these health factors so Arizona will continue to be a place where we can have long, healthy lives after retirement age.

Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, September 2013

September 5th, 2013

September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and is a great time for us to take stock of where we are in the “Winnable Battle” of combatting obesity. Last month, we got some good news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that obesity rates in children and adults are leveling off after decades of going up.

Now we’ve learned that we are also making progress in school policies to promote healthy eating and physical activity. CDC just released the 2012 School Health Policies and Practices Study which shows the amazing changes that have occurred in schools to help students be healthy and ready-to-learn. For example, the number of school districts that prohibit offering junk food in vending machines has increased from just 4.1% in 2000 to nearly half in 2012 (43.3%).

Even with these encouraging signs, there is still work to do. The childhood obesity epidemic puts nearly one third of America’s children at risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease – conditions usually associated with adulthood. Even greater disparities exist among young Hispanics and children of color. There are opportunities  every day to change these trends and the results can last a lifetime. All children deserve a healthy start in life and it’s our responsibility to make that possible. Let’s use Childhood Obesity Month to renew our resolve and use this opportunity to build awareness and take action where we live, learn, work, play, and receive care throughout Arizona.

The Departments of Economic Security and Health Services are working together to raise awareness of childhood obesity . I invite you to view a similar blog piece by my agency counterpart, Director Clarence Carter.