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Mayor Rahm Emanuel has declared this week to be the first ever Chicago Healthy Hearts Week, bringing together the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and more than a dozen leading partners to promote a heart-healthy lifestyle and identify new ways to combat cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease remains the leading killer in both Chicago and the nation, claiming the lives of about 2,200 Americans each day. In Chicago, nearly 5,500 Chicagoans die each year because of cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke.
“Heart disease and strokes do not discriminate. They affect all ages, races, religions and classes,” said Mayor Emanuel. “As one of the country’s largest and most diverse cities, our Healthy Chicago, Healthy Hearts action plan will help us ensure we are doing everything we can to create healthy heart cultures in every Chicago neighborhood.”
More than a dozen events will take place across the City, including free heart screenings. The week kicked off today, on World Heart Day, as CDPH releases its Healthy Chicago, Healthy Hearts action plan to bring national cardiovascular disease prevention recommendations to the local level. In addition, CDPH and partners will host screenings at Lower West Medical Center and a community roundtable discussion with local advocacy groups on making the plans included in Healthy Chicago, Healthy Hearts a reality.
“Across the country, and here at home, there are renewed efforts to combat cardiovascular disease,” said CDPH Commissioner Bechara Choucair, M.D. “Through the Healthy Hearts, Healthy Chicago initiative, the city of Chicago can effectively provide vital resources to thousands of Chicagoans battling cardiovascular disease. The city has a responsibility to close the disparities gap, and the Healthy Hearts, Healthy Chicago initiative will make an impact through strategic leadership, partnerships, and effective communication of the Affordable Care Act prevention provision.”
The National Forum developed a national plan to prevent cardiovascular disease in March of this year. Chicago is the first city to turn the recommendations into action items that will work on a local level. Healthy Chicago, Healthy Hearts is a new action plan that developed from that partnership.
“The City of Chicago is doing exactly what the National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention recommends: taking bold leadership to promote heart health from the earliest years of life,” said Dr. Darwin Labarthe, emeritus founder of the National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention, an independent non-profit, 501(c)(3), voluntary health organization with a mission to eliminate heart disease and stroke as the number one killer in the U.S by 2020. “As a result, Chicagoans can lead happier and healthier lives, with a future free of heart attacks and strokes.”
Other activities this week include a meeting with restaurant owners about creating a heart healthy menu, community conversations on using technology to advance cardiovascular health and a conversation with Million Hearts Initiative, Executive Director, Janet Wright.
“Many people still believe that heart attacks and strokes are inevitable, or a ‘natural’ consequence of aging. In fact, most are preventable through good habits and good care, including control of high blood pressure,” said Janet S. Wright, MD, FACC, Executive Director of Million Hearts, a national initiative that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. by 2017. “We applaud Chicago’s efforts to improve heart health citywide and we are thrilled about their contributions to a million fewer events.”
There will also be screenings through Keep Your Heart Healthy, a program launched by CDPH earlier this year designed to identify Chicago residents most at risk for developing heart disease. Supported by funding from the GE Foundation, the program works on an individual basis with those residents to empower them to make life changes and connect them to a medical provider, reducing their risk moving forward.
Cardiovascular disease is preventable with the right lifestyle choices. CDPH and their partners are encouraging the residents of Chicago to make small lifestyle changes. They recommend exercising regularly, quitting smoking and eating a balanced diet.
“The important thing is to educate the consumers on how to keep their heart healthy,” said Esther Sciammarella, Director of the Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition, a multi- disciplinary membership organization founded to address the need for health promotion and disease prevention among Chicago’s Hispanic community. Everyone is urged to talk with their doctor or healthcare provider today about what they can do to keep their heart healthy. Click here for a full list of scheduled events. Follow Healthy Hearts Week on social media at #HealthyHeartsChi.
Partners in this effort include:
National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention
Northwestern Department of Preventive Medicine
American Heart Association
Region V Department of Health and Human Services
South Asian Cardiovascular Center
Institute of Medicine Chicago
Oak Street Health
Medical Ministry of New Life Covenant Church
Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition
Keep Your Heart Healthy Initiative
Million Hearts Initiative
Respiratory Health Association
First Ladies Health Initiative
Asian Health Coalition
Illinois Academy of Family Physicians
WestRidge Chamber of Commerce