Public Health Herald 10th Issue

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 Winter 2011                                                                                                                                  Vol. 3, No. 2

Topic of the Quarter: Vital Signs to Heart Health

High blood pressure and high cholesterol are the two main risk factors for heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death for U.S. men and women. Each affects an estimated one in three U.S. adults—68 million Americans have high blood pressure, and 71 million have high LDL ("bad") cholesterol. These deadly conditions often are preventable, easy to detect and possible to control, although more than half of those with high blood pressure and two-thirds of those with high cholesterol do not have these conditions under control. Treatment for cardiovascular disease accounts for $1 in every $6 U.S. health dollars. Total cardiovascular disease medical costs in 2010 were an estimated $300 billion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill more than 800,000 U.S. adults annually, 150,000 of whom are younger than age 65. Living a healthy lifestyle by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising daily, and not smoking or quitting smoking often can prevent or help control high blood pressure and high cholesterol. People who develop high blood pressure and cholesterol also should manage their condition by following their doctor’s instructions about taking medication and eating foods that are low in salt, fat and cholesterol.

States can adopt a variety of options to help prevent and control high blood pressure and high cholesterol, including policies that: 

  • Increase the availability of healthy food choices and safe places to be active for all people.
  • Help reduce salt and eliminate artificial trans-fat in the U.S. food supply.
  • Improve chronic disease prevention and management through medical home care, incentives and quality improvement.
  • Allow various health care professionals to have a more active role in managing high blood pressure and cholesterol. For example, allowing pharmacists, under physician supervision, to monitor and adjust medication accordingly.
  • Increase use of electronic health records and doctor reminder systems.

Recent actions suggest that, by working together, health care providers, policymakers and individuals not only can prevent and control high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but also improve health care access and treatment options.

CDC Resources:   
Vital Signs: High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol


Upcoming Events and NCSL Resources

Spring Forum, April 14-16, 2011, in Washington, D.C., at the Marriott Wardman Park. Come learn about key state issues, and help develop NCSL's advocacy positions before Congress and the administration. The work of NCSL Standing Committees has saved states billions of dollars over the years as they work to fight unfunded federal mandates.

Technical Assistance
NCSL can provide testimony to legislatures on chronic disease prevention; health promotion; preventing injuries and violence; reducing health disparities; access to health care; community health centers; and other health policy topics. Contact Alise Garcia at

NCSL Resources
LegisBrief – Disparities in Cardiovascular Health
LegisBrief – Reducing Sodium to Improve Health

NCSL Web Pages
An Overview of Heart Disease and Stroke
2009-2010 State Legislative Policy Options
Heart Disease and Stroke: 50-State Profile Reports
National Wear Red Day


 In the News

The National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council released the National Prevention Strategy recommending strategies related to prevention and public health, including health disparities, injury prevention and clinical preventive services.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released Healthy People 2020, the nation’s new 10-year goals and objectives for health promotion and disease prevention. Healthy People sets targets for public health outcomes and objectives for reaching those goals.  

The Food and Drug Administration announced withdrawal of its guidance on menu labeling and will proceed through the rulemaking process. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the FDA “is committed to trying to get the proposed rule out by March, as required by law, and the final rule out by the end of the year.”

The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute announced their "Nutrition Keys" proposal for front-of-package food labeling with nutrition and other information.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the Initiative on Multiple Chronic Conditions to improve the health of people living with one or more chronic conditions.  The goals will foster healthcare and public health system changes; maximize proven self-care management strategies; enhance care delivery through better tools and information; and facilitate research to "fill knowledge gaps."

The National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity is organizing implementation of the nation’s first Physical Activity plan. The plan, Make the Move 2010-2011 Implementation of the U.S. Physical Activity Plan provides measurable outcomes, resources and success stories.

CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health announced the latest Surgeon General’s report, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease. The report contains important information on how tobacco smoke causes disease and explains why it is crucial to stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released, Ending the Tobacco Epidemic, a strategic plan for tobacco prevention. The Department also officially posted a copy of a Federal Register notice about a proposed rule on graphic warning labels for tobacco products.

Teen Sodium Consumption Affects Health in Adulthood - According to researchers from the University of California San Francisco and Columbia University Medical Center, reducing teenage salt consumption by 3 grams per day (1,200 mg sodium) would reduce the number of teenagers and young adults with hypertension by 44 to 63 percent (380,000 to 550,000).

The United Health Foundation released its state-by-state survey measuring 22 activities that can predict future health of state residents.

Public Health Project Partner News

NCSL collaborates with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other national organizations—including the National Governors Association, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the Society for Public Health Education—on public health projects. Recent resources available from partner organizations on public health topics include the following.

CDC Launches New Website on Community Prevention
The CDC’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work Program recently launched its new website that tracks community-level change that address obesity prevention and tobacco use prevention locally. The site also provides a brief overview of each funded community.

ASTHO "Salt and Your State Webinar"
Participants heard from three experts on sodium reduction strategies at the state-level, including: Jason Eberhardt-Phillips, (Health Director, Kansas Department of Health and Environment); Darwin Labarthe, (CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention); and Jill Birnbaum (American Heart Association).  To view this webinar, please visit Salt and Your State to go directly to the webinar. Enter your name and then click "view recording".

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