February is an ideal time to encourage our families, friends, and communities to be involved in heart health. With every heartbeat, blood is pumped through 60,000 miles of blood vessels, delivering important nutrition and oxygen to organs and tissues. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, remains the leading global cause of death with more than 17.9 million deaths each year. In Arizona, heart disease is the number one cause of death. More than 30 percent of Arizonans have high blood pressure and 33 percent high cholesterol.

The Arizona Department of Health Services is addressing heart disease through systems-level interventions and programmatic work. The Arizona Health Improvement Plan Heart Disease and Stroke Work Group has committed to increase awareness by building an integrated and comprehensive communications plan; increasing the use of hands-only CPR by training dispatchers, schools, and community partners; and to increasing the number of health systems focused on heart disease and stroke by strengthening heart and stroke systems of care in pre-hospital, hospital, and post-hospital settings.

ADHS is also working with high risk populations through focused partnerships.  In the past year, ADHS hosted blood pressure screenings at barber shops serving African Americans and promoted the American Heart Association to implement the Community Health Worker Heart Health Training throughout Arizona. A new partnership with the Arizona Alliance of Community Health Centers will focus on heart disease clinical quality improvement projects for underserved communities throughout Arizona.

For more information about healthy choices that can lower your risk of heart disease, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention online.