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Heart health focus of local efforts
heart health pic1
American Medical Response paramedic Kristy Kuhn teaches Julie Bettencourt how to perform hands-only CPR during the Glow Red luncheon held Friday in Turlock to bring awareness to the leading killers of women heart disease and stroke. Along with a CPR station, the luncheon featured heart-healthy recipes and encouraged attendees to take an online heart disease risk assessment test. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

Stanislaus County has one of the highest rates of heart disease in California and since February is American Heart Month, local health providers are seizing the opportunity to boost the heart health of area residents.

Of course, cardiovascular disease is hardly just a local epidemic. The American Heart Association estimates that about 85.6 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of stroke. Nearly 801,000 people in the United States died from heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases in 2013. That’s about one of every three deaths in America.

The California Department of Public Health’s County Health Assessment found Stanislaus County had a coronary heart disease death rate of 148 deaths per 100,000 residents, landing the county 57th out of the state’s 58 counties.

Several organizations are hoping to turn the tide by embarking on an awareness campaign promoting heart health.

Emanuel Medical Center, along with Doctors Hospital in Modesto and Manteca, are conducting a month-long campaign designed to educate the community about cardiovascular disease, including a free online risk assessment.

“Raising public awareness of the risks associated with cardiovascular disease is critical,” said Sue Micheletti, CEO of Emanuel Medical Center. “People often aren’t aware that they are at risk. That’s why tools like our risk assessment calculator are so important. Our three hospitals, working collaboratively with the AHA, are dedicated to reducing the toll from heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases by 20 percent by the year 2020.”  

On Friday, Micheletti reached out specifically to local women to increase awareness to the leading killers of women —heart disease and stroke. The hospital CEO shared facts about heart disease and women, along with personal stories, during a National Wear Red Day luncheon held Friday in Turlock.

A main component of the hospital's overall campaign is the Online Risk Assessment Test. Residents can assess their risk for heart disease by filling out a brief online questionnaire. Those whose risk for cardiovascular disease is found to be high will receive a referral to a local specialist. People considered at medium or low risk will receive follow-up emails with detailed information about cardiovascular disease and healthy eating. The link is

The HEART (Heart Education Awareness Resource Team) Coalition of Stanislaus County also is aiming to help improve the community’s overall heart health. The Coalition was formed in 1999 because of the county’s continual high rate of cardiovascular disease, and over the years they have focused their efforts on worksite wellness, women’s heart health, childhood obesity prevention and healthy nutrition campaigns.

“Our overall mission is to improve the health of the community,” said Kennoris Bates, a member of the Coalition. “People are subject to so many ads for bad choices and we are trying to combat that with some healthy options. Education is the main component.”