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Your heart may be older than you are – and that’s not good. If this is the case, you have a higher risk for heart attacks and stroke. But you can take action to put your heart on a healthy beat.
According to a new CDC Vital Signs report, 3 out of 4 U.S. adults have a predicted heart age that is older than their actual age. The heart age concept was created to more effectively communicate a person’s risk of dying from heart attack or stroke and to show what can be done to lower that risk. The risks include high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes status, and body mass index as an indicator for obesity. You can check out your heart age at www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/heartage.htm.
Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases is the nation’s number one cause of death among both men and women. You may be able to prevent it by focusing on a risk factor that you're ready to change. Not smoking, controlling blood pressure and controlling cholesterol can drastically reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. You can increase your heart age by:
CDC scientists used risk factor data collected from every state in the U.S. and information from the Framingham Heart Study to determine that nearly 69 million adults between the ages of 30 and 74 have a heart age older than their actual age. That’s about the number of people living in the 130 largest U.S. cities combined.
The CDC Vital Signs report shows that heart age varies by race/ethnicity, gender, region and other sociodemographic characteristics. Excess heart age is highest in African-Americans and increases with age in all populations.
By taking steps now, Americans can be young – not old – at heart.
Check out this and other CDC Vital Signs issues.
APHA Webinar Series on Racism and Public Health Concludes with a Look at the Relationship between Graduation Rates and Health Disparities
Statistically, a high school graduate is more likely to choose healthier behaviors than someone who did not finish high school. But fewer than two-thirds of African American and three-quarters of Latino students graduate on time. What can be done to eliminate systematic barriers to education, improve graduation rates in black and Latino communities and put more minority youth on a healthier life path?
The American Public Health Association (APHA) will address this question today as the organization concludes its four-part webinar series on racism and public health, exploring the relationship between education and poor health outcomes in African American and Latino communities. APHA Past President Adewale Troutman and President-Elect Camara Jones will be joined by Robert Murphy, former teacher, assistant principal and dropout prevention specialist, to discuss what education and public health leaders can do to close the education achievement gap and reduce health disparities.
What: APHA Webinar: Racism: The Silent Partner in High School Dropout and Health Disparities
When: September 1 at 2 pm EDT
Register and watch past webinars in the APHA series at https://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/webinars/racism-and-health.
Ed. note: This was originally published on the HHS.gov blog.
Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina’s flood waters filled my city of New Orleans – as I watched helplessly from Alaska where I was on vacation. I remember vividly the chaos and confusion of trying to connect with family, neighbors and colleagues from afar with nothing more than a flip phone. At that time, I was on the faculty of the Tulane University School of Medicine and School of Public Health, where I conducted research, saw patients and oversaw the faculty and students of the general medicine section. After the flood, I was in charge of re-assembling my faculty and helping stand up the medical school, which was being temporarily relocated to Houston.
An overhead view of the New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005. Photo Credit: HHS.
But my focus on the medical school quickly shifted when I saw the immediate need in New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina had torn down our most essential institutions, from 9-1-1 to emergency rooms and hospitals. Eighty percent of my New Orleans was under water. A quarter of a million structures were flooded, electricity and plumbing systems were severely damaged and most care was being delivered by volunteer health care providers working from card tables, sometimes in tents with very limited supplies.
The medical residents, or physicians-in-training, were looking to me for support and leadership in providing needed urgent services and in rebuilding health care in New Orleans. We all saw an opportunity to build something better. Now was our chance to transform the health system into a world class, patient-centered system that would serve patients in their communities and focus on prevention. Instead of waiting to treat people in a coma from diabetes, we would put a structure in place to help prevent diabetes in the first place. We would do this by bringing primary care to people in their neighborhoods. Alongside new houses, we would build medical homes.
But we could not do it alone.
Fortunately, there was an outpouring of support from across the country and around the world. Civilian volunteers and men and women from each of our country’s uniformed services came, not just to rebuild New Orleans, but to build it back stronger. Among them were the officers of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, who were so critical to our public health recovery and restoration.
Dr. Karen DeSalvo works at the Harrah’s Clinic in New Orleans, LA, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Photo Credit: Dr. Karen DeSalvo.
Officers like Captain Kimberly Elenberg and Captain Bill Knight evaluated New Orleans’ capabilities and needs and worked with the community to develop a plan for delivering prevention and treatment services. Captain Vincent Berkley (now a rear admiral) organized the daily “nine o’clock meeting” in which health and government leaders focused not only on restoring acute care services such as 9-1-1, but on instituting a broader, long-term policy agenda for health care reform. Captain Patrick O’Carroll (now a rear admiral), a medical scientist, made sure that responders to the disaster were equipped with accurate information about arising health and medical issues. They and their Commissioned Corps colleagues were essential partners in helping us articulate and build our dream of transforming health care in New Orleans.
I am proud of the progress New Orleans has made in making this dream a reality.
Together, we ensured that health care was not only restored, but rebuilt to be world-class and available to all. Today, New Orleans boasts a strong community health system of neighborhood-based clinics that serve 130,000 people, nearly one-third of whom are still uninsured, with high quality, affordable care at 60 sites across the metropolitan area. Additionally, the public health infrastructure has been reimagined and rebuilt into a local force for wellness. It serves the community not only in times of disaster but also on an everyday basis through prevention programs like FitNOLA or good policies like smoke-free spaces that make the healthy choice the easy choice.
While Hurricane Katrina initially devastated New Orleans, it reaffirmed my belief in the capacity of a community to come together not just to survive, but to thrive; to build upon a dream, born of disaster; to no longer be the city that care forgot.
Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., is the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) and National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).
Ed. note: This was originally published on the Womenshealth.gov blog.
Yes, breastfeeding is the best nutrition for babies. But breastfeeding has never really been just about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is about rethinking society's rules for infant feeding, overcoming cultural and environmental obstacles, and improving the workplace for breastfeeding women. On top of all this, there are different cultural ideas about breastfeeding for black women, including the historical trauma of wet nursing and the marketing of infant formula in our communities, and the issue gets even trickier. It is no wonder that there have been huge differences in breastfeeding rates between black women and white women for over 40 years.
These disparities are unacceptable.
Two years ago, I joined forces with two amazing breastfeeding advocates to name August 25—31 as Black Breastfeeding Week. Black Breastfeeding Week is a special weeklong awareness campaign to close out National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. It's designed to celebrate the power of breastfeeding in our community. As we see it, breastfeeding is more than giving our children immunity against some diseases and reduced risk of ear infections, respiratory infections, and type 2 diabetes. It is more than understanding that breastfeeding gives our children the best start at healthy eating habits for life. (Breastfed children are more likely to have varied and healthier eating preferences because breastmilk tastes different at each feeding. This means breastfed children are introduced to a variety of flavors each day.)
We see breastfeeding as an act of empowerment and self-determination. It's one of the many ways mothers can give their children the best possible start in life. It is time that we lift our children up — starting at birth — and over the many cultural and environmental barriers and forces that often prevent them from reaching their fullest potential.
With that in mind, the theme for this year's Black Breastfeeding Week is "Lift Every Baby," and our tagline is "Breastfeeding: So Strong. So Us." "Lift Every Baby" reminds us of all the ways that black families and communities lift up their youngest and most vulnerable members. From breastfeeding to early learning to quality schools to good nutrition, we're celebrating and sharing ideas on how we lift our babies — one child at a time.
On August 29th at 3 p.m. ET, there will be the first-ever nationally coordinated Lift Up events in cities across the United States. Black families will gather in predetermined locations to lift up their babies together as a visual display of community support of our children. Whether your "baby" is one or 15, if you can lift them up, you are encouraged to join a Lift Up event near you. I'll be there with my "baby" who is 11!
Throughout the week, we will have various social media events to spread the "Lift Every Baby" theme, including our signature annual twitter chat August 27th at 9 p.m. ET. This year's hashtag is #LiftEveryBaby. Get the full rundown of activities and the latest updates at BlackBreastfeedingWeek.org and the BBW Facebook page.
We invite black parents, aunties, uncles, and grandparents to join the conversation online and off to show our collective power to lift up every baby, every family, and every community. Breastfeeding is: So Strong. So Us.
Kimberly Seals Allers is an award-winning journalist, author, and social commentator. She currently leads the First Food Friendly Community Initiative, an innovative pilot program funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation designed to create a national accreditation for communities who create more supportive environments for breastfeeding while promoting economic security for families. Her next book, The Big Let Down, a behind-the-scenes look at the battle for every infant's first meal, will be published in the spring. Learn more at www.KimberlySealsAllers.com and follow her at @iamKSealsAllers.
The statements and opinions in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health.
As the nation recognizes the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina—one of the most devastating and expensive natural disasters in our history—individuals, families, and communities that were directly affected continue to recover.
Hurricanes and other natural disasters can lead to emotional distress in those who experience them. Survivors (including children and teens), loved ones of victims, and first responders are all at risk, and disaster anniversaries can re-trigger some of that emotional distress.
Overwhelming anxiety, constant worrying, trouble sleeping, and other symptoms are common responses to disasters and traumatic events (before, during, and after the event), although reactions can vary from person to person. Most people who experience disasters are able to “bounce back” in a short period of time, but others may need additional support in order to cope and move forward on the path of recovery.
Anniversaries of disasters may also be hard for survivors, who may experience some of the same reactions they did around the time of the disaster itself. For those who experience intense reactions, preparing ahead of time and knowing what to expect may be helpful. Common reactions to disaster anniversaries include recurrent memories, dreams, thoughts, and emotions; grief and sadness; frustration, anger, and guilt; avoidance; remembrance; and reflection. To support themselves through anniversary reactions, survivors may want to talk about their reactions with others, take care of themselves by getting enough sleep and exercise and eating healthy food; develop and stick with routines; limit viewing of news related to the anniversary; use coping strategies that have worked for them in the past; and seek professional help with their reactions if they need it.
If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, please call SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746. A TTY line for people who are deaf or hearing impaired is available at 1-800-846-8517.
Paolo del Vecchio, M.S.W. is the Director of the Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration