As part of the largest scale World Heart Day initiative in the organization’s history, the National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention is helping Americans take steps to reduce high cholesterol and other heart disease and stroke risk factors.
According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), more than 73 million American adults have high levels of low-lipid density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, yet less than half (48%) of these adults are getting treatment. High cholesterol is one of the most common risk factors for heart disease and stroke, affecting 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women at some point in their lives. However, cardiovascular disease, known more commonly as heart disease and stroke, does not affect people equally. Most deaths from cardiovascular disease occur before age 75, and disproportionally affects women in the United States. Fortunately, in many instances, premature heart disease-related deaths are preventable.
Through collaboration and coordinated efforts, the National Forum and its members are working to increase the public’s awareness of cholesterol and steps they can take to improve their heart health. The National Forum’s diverse membership includes more than 80 national and international organizations, ranging from major national health advocacy organizations to government health agencies and private companies invested in cardiovascular health.
“The National Forum is where successful collaborations happen. Our vast network allows us to widen the reach of our members and create real change in communities,” said John Clymer, executive director of the National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention. “Working together, we are encouraging people to make healthy choices throughout the month of September. Of course, we are optimistic these activities will stick long term.”
On Sept. 1, the National Forum launched a national public education campaign to promote heart-healthy habits, such as cholesterol checks, healthy diets, regular physical activity, smoking cessation and stress reduction. Several cities have taken action to improve the health of their communities, and the National Forum has partnered with three of them – Indianapolis, Green Bay, Wis., and New Orleans – to create unique themes and coordinate community events around heart health.
In partnership with the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, Indianapolis is encouraging Hoosiers to change “Just One Thing” in their daily routine to improve their heart health. The campaign acknowledges that while it can be overwhelming to adopt several healthy habits at once, choosing “Just One Thing” can help residents take a step in the right direction. Indianapolis had a strong start to the month with a kickoff walk with Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and the First Lady of Indianapolis Winnie Ballard.
“We’re proud to have launched the first large scale U.S. based World Heart Day, but we’re even prouder that our World Heart Day 2014 event served as a launching pad to grow World Heart Day in Indianapolis and other cities for World Heart Day in 2015,” said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.
The City of Green Bay is partnering with the National Forum to host “Move with the Mayor,” a 30-minute downtown walking series held every in September at until World Heart Day, Sept. 29. Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt leads the walks and is joined by a new local celebrity each week. The kickoff walk on Sept. 1 featured Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy, and the downtown workforce turned out in large numbers to get active and compete for prizes.
“Walking is one of the easiest ways people can lower their chances of heart disease and its risk factors, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes,” said Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt. “The best part about walking is you don’t need much more than 30 minutes to commit to your heart. I’m hoping to show our city that it is possible to find that time.”
In New Orleans, the National Forum is partnering with New Orleans East Hospital and the American College of Cardiology’s CardioSmart to host a “Managing Your Cholesterol’’ campaign. The hospital will provide free cholesterol screenings and a free Dinner & Learn event with guest speaker Dr. Keith Ferdinand on World Heart Day, Sept. 29. In addition, residents can take a free “Cholesterol Challenge” quiz on the CardioSmart website throughout the month of September.
“High cholesterol is a known risk factor for heart disease, yet many people are unaware of their cholesterol levels or know if their level is too high for them,” said Dr. Ferdinand, professor of clinical medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine’s Heart and Vascular Institute and immediate past chair of the National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention. “A cholesterol screening is a first step in preventing a heart attack, and, together with New Orleans East Hospital and CardioSmart, we are helping people take this simple step.”
More information on World Heart Day:
World Heart Day is the world's biggest intervention against heart disease. It takes place annually on Sept. 29. This year’s celebration is made possible through sponsorship by Amgen, AstraZeneca and its members and community partners – particularly those in Indianapolis, Green Bay and New Orleans who provided opportunities for their communities to improve their heart health. A list of community events, as well as information on risk factors for heart disease and tips for improving heart health, are available at http://www.nationalforum.
org/content/world-heart-day- challenge. Video is available here: https://www.youtube.com/ channel/UCh0voLhs-ATkk_ ReSWjPqMg
Participants can share their progress on their own social media channels by tagging #WHD2015.
National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention brings together the most dynamic and diverse organizations in cardiovascular health, providing a forum and outlet for organizations to amplify their voices. Our members currently represent more than 80 national and international organizations from public and private healthcare organizations as well as faith, advocacy, academic and policy settings. The National Forum is a tax-exempt, independent non-profit, 501(c)(3) and voluntary health organization.