By: Lisa Schmidtfrerick-Miller | Healthy Communities Consultant | Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services
If you live in Western New York, odds are better than average that you know someone who has experienced a heart attack or stroke. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, and some of the highest rates of heart disease and stroke deaths in all of New York State can be found right here in Western New York. (Source: New York State Department of Health 2011-2013 Vital Statistics Data as of February, 2015) You might blame this on our regional love affair with chicken wings, cold winters that encourage hibernation, and persistently high smoking rates, and you would be at least partially correct. The American Heart Association estimates that a whopping 80% of all heart attacks and strokes are preventable with relatively simple measures such as healthier eating, more exercise, not smoking, and weight control, along with managing blood pressure and cholesterol.
Million Hearts is the national initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017 by focusing on the clinical aspects of heart health referred to as the “ABCS.” The ABCS stands for aspirin use when appropriate, blood pressure control, cholesterol management, and smoking cessation. Million Hearts promotes improving the quality of care relating to heart disease and stroke prevention, and activating the public to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle. Healthcare systems, county health departments, and health agencies across our region have committed to this initiative and are working hard to implement the recommendations of the Million Hearts initiative to reduce heart attack and strokes right here in Western New York.
One local county decided to make the goal of Million Hearts a little more personal. The Chautauqua County Health Action Team (CHAT) determined that Chautauqua County’s share of a Million Hearts would equate to roughly 250 heart attack and stroke deaths prevented, and CHQ250 was born. The CHAT, a coalition of Chautauqua County hospitals, employers, agencies, and other organizations, created the CHQ250 logo along with the tagline: “doing our part to save hearts.” With the arrival of heart month, CHAT members are activating their own organizations, faith communities, schools, and health care providers toward this goal. As the Chautauqua County Health Network works with providers on the clinical side of Million Hearts ABCS, other members of the CHAT are promoting heart attack and stroke prevention and early recognition of heart attack and stroke symptoms. Additionally, the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services is working with their County Emergency Services to increase and improve bystander response to sudden cardiac arrest.
Starting this month, CHAT members are encouraging local residents to “Be a CHQ 250” by starting CHQ250 walking challenges, working to cut sugar and sodium in foods at their workplace, sharing information about how to recognize heart attack and stroke symptoms, and hosting bystander hands-only CPR trainings, among other activities. CHAT facilitator Bree Agett of the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services feels there is great potential for CHQ250: “We’re excited about the energy that our coalition partners are bringing to CHQ250, and the community’s response has been great and continues to grow. We’re looking forward to seeing what the collective impact of this effort can be in reducing heart attack and strokes here in Chautauqua County.”
For more information, contact BreeAnne Agett at 716-753-4771 or AgettB@co.chautauqua.ny.us. You may also follow CHQ250 on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Chq250 or on Twitter @CHQ250.
The P² team completed the CHQ 250 Challenge with 504.26 miles collectively!