Keep Your Heart Healthy

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death among New Yorkers, with 27,000 CVD-related deaths reported each year (New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2004b). One quarter of New York City adults have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, and a similar number have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, with many more remaining undiagnosed. One-sixth of New York City adults are obese, and three-fourths of New Yorkers do not get at least 30 minutes of physical activity four or more days per week. More than 500,000 adult New Yorkers (9%) have been diagnosed with diabetes, a 2 /2-fold increase in the past decade. Another 250,000 New Yorkers may have diabetes and not know it, and close to a million more with pre-diabetes are likely to eventually develop diabetes.

Blood pressure and cholesterol can be controlled with diet, exercise and medications. Control of blood pressure with medications significantly reduces the incidence of stroke, heart attack and heart failure (Neal, et al., 2000). Treatment of high cholesterol reduces deaths by 25% (LaRosa, et al., 1999). Most overweight people are capable of achieving a healthier weight, and increased physical activity lowers mortality even in the absence of weight loss. Even modest weight loss (5-10%) and increased physical activity reduces the risk of developing diabetes by 60% in people at high risk (Knowler, et al., 2002).

Among the activities in which the DOHMH and its partners are engaged are: (1) disseminating print and online materials, including a "Passport to Your Health," to assist New Yorkers in tracking their vital signs (blood pressure, cholesterol, weight) and taking actions supportive of good health; (2) offering screenings at municipal hospitals and through partner organizations, and providing appropriate counseling or treatment as indicated; (3) promoting better screening of people who are overweight for pre-diabetes, pre-hypertension and other early indicators of developing CVD; (4) promoting better diabetes management through partnering with health care providers and disseminating treatment information through public health detailing efforts; (5) partnering with large employers in initiating worksite wellness programs and advocating for policies that provide incentives to employers who subsidize employee health club memberships; (6) advocating for reduced prescription drug costs, particularly blood pressure- and cholesterol-lowering medications; (7) advocating for mandatory performance standards for managed care and Medicaid providers; (8) advocating for the development of a comprehensive network of bicycle lanes and walking paths; and (9) exploring the feasibility of developing nutritional labeling guidelines for restaurants and other establishments providing prepared foods.

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