We LOVE Healthy Hearts

Feb. 7, 2019

Samantha Breslin


It’s American Heart Month and the City Heath Dashboard is celebrating all that has been accomplished to raise awareness about heart disease. Medical advances over the last several decades mean we are able to prevent and manage heart disease and its complications for millions of people across the country. Communities also have more data, and more best practices, such as the ones mentioned in the Dashboard, to help community leaders and citizens better battle heart disease.

So, what’s the problem?

Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in America for both men and women. And a new report published by the American Heart Association claims that nearly half of all U.S. adults, 121.5 million people, have cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Here in our home city, a study by NYU School of Medicine and the NYC Department of Health and Human Services recently found that obesity is on the rise for New York City residents. People are eating out more, sleeping less, and spending more time in front of their screens. These behaviors can lead to other preventable conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes – all of which exacerbate heart problems. So, while progress has been made, it’s time to redouble our efforts against heart disease. The Dashboard offers some helpful tools and maps to dig deeper into heart health in your community.  We pulled a few to give you some examples of how you can use the Dashboard to look at the impacts and drivers of heart disease in your community, as well as how different groups are impacted. How can I find out about heart health in my city?

Use the Dashboard to explore cardiovascular-related health outcomes, such as obesity, in your community:

  1. Identify patterns in CVD rates for different groups of residents. For example, in Boston, Massachusetts, rates of CVD tend to be lower among Asian and black residents than among Hispanic and white residents. Armed with this information, users can work to identify what factors drive CVD within these communities.

  2. Identify areas of improvement for adult obesity across a city. For example, in Portland, Oregon, census tracts on the northeastern side of the city have higher rates of obesity than those on the western side of the city. Knowing where rates are the highest gives community leaders the data they need to advocate for their neighborhoods and allows city leaders to drive resources to the areas with the greatest need.

  3. Compare the relationship between smoking and high blood pressure across neighborhoods.  In Miami, Florida neighborhoods that have higher smoking rates also tend to have higher rates of high blood pressure among residents.  Tobacco cessation advocates can use this data to help support their case for why smoke-free policies are important in their local communities.

Start improving heart health TODAY!

As you celebrate American Heart Month this February, you can find a number of evidence-backed strategies and resources that can help encourage physical activity, healthy eating, medication adherence, regular health screenings, and more. Here are a few you can start implementing today:

Explore all of the Dashboard’s resources for taking action and let us know what’s working in your area by connecting with us on social media. If you’re unsure of how to use the Dashboard in your community, reach out to us! We’re here to help.

And P.S: If you are like me and have a sweet tooth, try these American Heart Association approved recipes on the big day! There’s no need to sacrifice your health or your taste buds when you celebrate with your loved ones.

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