Tennessee: Heart Disease, Stroke Prevention Plan Saves Lives

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The Tennessee Department of Health, in association with the American Heart Association, has developed a comprehensive strategy to address the burden of heart disease and stroke in Tennessee. The Tennessee Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and Care Plan presentshealth care providers, community leaders, business organizations, school officials and individuals throughout the state with a roadmap for action to reduce disability and death from heart disease and stroke.

“Heart disease and stroke take a deadly toll on our state, and claim thousands of Tennessee lives every year,” said Commissioner of Health Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “We know lifestyle choices such as smoking, poor nutrition and lack of exercise, contribute to these diseases. The good news is that there are simple steps each of us can take to help reduce our risk of developing these conditions. This new plan is a tool that can help put us all on the path to longer, healthier lives.”

TDOH and the American Heart Association are working together as strategic partners to effectively address the burden of heart disease and stroke in Tennessee. The goals of the Tennessee Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and Care Plan are to:

* develop new resources and enhance the existing infrastructure by bringing groups together and utilizing policy and environmental change factors.

* prevent the development of heart disease and stroke risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity and smoking/tobacco use.

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* promote early and aggressive treatment of heart disease and stroke risk factors.

* ensure that all Tennesseans diagnosed with heart disease and stroke receive aggressive treatment to prevent the exacerbation of heart disease, subsequent events, associated complications, disabilities and mortality.

* work toward the reduction and ultimate elimination of disparities in heart disease and stroke prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and access to care.

In addition, the plan provides specific strategies for addressing heart disease and stroke in priority populations, which address the disparities that exist among African Americans in the areas of prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and access to care. The plan also contains policies for monitoring and evaluating the progress of its implementation.

“The American Heart Association works closely with the Tennessee Department of Health Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program to improve the system of care for patients suffering a heart attack or stroke in any corner of our state,” said Jean Saunders, senior state health alliance director for the American Heart Association. “The state plan provides a roadmap to an ideal system of care in Tennessee. These system improvements result in more people living healthy, productive lives after a heart attack or stroke.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Tennesseans; stroke is the third. Together, these conditions account for one out of every three deaths in the state, and claim more than 20,000 lives in Tennessee each year. In 2005, the most recent year for which data are available, Tennessee ranked seventh in the nation for deaths from heart disease and second for deaths from stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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