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How to cut down cardiovascular disease
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ATLANTA — Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in Georgia, accounting for one-third of deaths in the state. The Georgia Department of Human Resources wants you to know about ways you can lessen the affects of this disease.  

CVD includes all diseases of the heart and blood vessels including heart disease caused by reduced blood supply to the heart; stroke; congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to the body’s other organs; hypertension or high blood pressure; and atherosclerosis or hardening and narrowing of the arteries.

DHR has several initiatives that address CVD, including the Cardiovascular Health Initiative, which is part of a national effort funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to address heart disease and stroke prevention. CVHI, in collaboration with other prevention programs, works to increase awareness about the importance of being physically active, not using tobacco, eating healthy and having regular checks-ups in lessening one’s risk for CVD and other chronic diseases.

“In 2004, more than 22,000 Georgians died from cardiovascular disease, and Georgia’s CVD death rate was 14 percent higher than the national rate,” said Stuart Brown, M.D., director of the Division of Public Health. “Incorporating healthy lifestyle behaviors and knowing the signs and symptoms of heart disease and stroke can save your life.”

DHR’s Stroke and Heart Attack Prevention Program is an awareness, detection, treatment and control program that targets low-income, uninsured or underinsured patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Funded in part by the Georgia General Assembly, the SHAPP program aims to reduce illness and death from cardiovascular disease associated with high blood pressure.  

There are 137 SHAPP clinics around the state, and they are partnerships between public and private health care providers. Both drugs aimed at reducing high blood pressure and guidance around lifestyle changes are made available in clinics to eligible patients.

Once a patient’s blood pressure is under control they are generally seen on a quarterly basis.  

Seek medical attention immediately if you are experiencing any of the following signs of heart attack: chest discomfort; general discomfort in areas of the upper body including in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach; shortness of breath; cold sweat; nausea; or lightheadedness.   

You also should seek help if you have symptoms of stroke, including: sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; or sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

Reduce your risk for cardiovascular and other chronic diseases by following the steps of the Live Healthy Georgia campaign: “Eat Healthy, Be Active, Be Smoke Free, Get Checked and Be Positive.” Following these guidelines can greatly reduce the chances of developing cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases, leading to an improved quality of life and reduced healthcare costs.  

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