In Our Community
Our mission is to create a world free of heart disease and stroke - a world where everyone can achieve the best possible health - and it starts right here in Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and, Wyoming. There is no quick fix, no one way to solve complex health issues that are affecting this generation and generations to come. That’s why we’re focused on the areas within our communities where there is an opportunity to make the greatest impact.
Short Distances Mean Big Differences
Your health isn’t just about your behavior. It’s also about place—your zip code can impact your health as much as your genetic code. New data shows the life-expectancy gap between zip codes in our regions can be more than 15 years.
We must address these issues that haven’t always traditionally been part of the health conversation: economic stability, education, neighborhood, and societal influences. Look at the numbers. There are 19 million Americans in unstable housing situations and 23.5 million people without access to healthy foods. Social determinants of health provide a framework for addressing the importance of location on many levels – starting at home.
That's why we are working to raise awareness about the vital effect lifestyle has on health, especially poor nutrition and inactivity, and to help children form healthy habits that will last a lifetime by removing obstacles to making healthy choices.
Find out what we’re doing in your community:
Ensuring Healthy Environments
Across our six-state area, we’re working to increase opportunities for people to incorporate physical activity into their everyday lives and to make nutritious foods more accessible and affordable for all. We're also working to enact statewide and local policies the raise the minimum legal sale age for all tobacco products to 21 and defending against any rollbacks in state smoke-free protections.
With human ingenuity, we can prevent heart disease and stroke — and care for people who suffer from these devastating diseases. In our region, we are fueling discovery, funding $12.5 Million in research in our six states last year. We are working with medical professionals to apply the most up-to-date evidence-based treatment guidelines through Get with the Guidelines and Mission: Lifeline.
Policy has the power to protect our health, improve communities and drive lasting change. The American Heart Association (AHA) empowers citizens to take informed action on local and state policies because we can all benefit from things like smoke-free laws and Complete Streets, which requires that all road construction and reconstruction create streets that are safe and convenient for all modes of transportation.
Creating A Culture of Health
We are working to weave healthy living practices and opportunities into our communities. From teaming up with city leaders to support more walking and biking routes, to driving initiatives that make healthier food options available in all neighborhoods, to providing our kids with more opportunities to be active in school – we are making it easier to be healthy where we live, work and play.
Nearly HALF of all American adults have high blood pressure. In Central Arkansas, the AHA is working to tackle the problem through public education and wellness and healthcare programs including
Check. Change. Control.® and Target: BP™.
But, what is high blood pressure, how do you find out what your numbers are and how do you treat it? For those answers and more we have Matthew Stripling, Senior Rural Health Director with the American Heart Association
The state of Arkansas has historically had a greater percentage of rural people than the nation since 1900. In the 2010 national census, only 19 percent of the country’s population was identified as rural compared with 44 percent for Arkansans. To make a difference in the health of Arkansas as a whole – one must target the rural areas.
This year the AHA focused on six counties in the area (Phillips, Lee, Arkansas, Desha, Chicot, and Monroe). A multi-prong radio campaign ran from April – June targeting areas of social determinants of health, stroke and opioid usage. It highlighted how these residents in the Arkansas Delta are impacted differently than residents of more urban areas of the state.
In Washington and Benton counties alone, 31% of children are overweight and obese under guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s enough to fill a school bus 500 times. Proper hydration is one way to help kids maintain a healthy weight. In 2019, the Northwest Arkansas office of the American Heart Association installed its first water bottle filling station, H2O and GO, at Old High Middle School in Bentonville. With the help of Healthy for Good sponsor RB, at least 45 more H2O and Go stations will be placed in NWA schools over the next three years.
The effort is a joint-strategy of the AHA-NWA and Healthy Active Arkansas. Want to get involved in this and other initiatives that impact the health of our community? Contact Deven Daehn, Senior Community Impact Director, Arkansas
Colorado leads the country in teen e-cigarette use. In fact, 26.2 percent of Colorado teens have reported using e-cigarettes, nearly twice the national average. From 2017-2018, e-cigarette usage rose by 78 percent for high school students and 48 percent for middle school students. Studies have shown that youth who start smoking e-cigarettes are four times more likely to be smoking traditional cigarettes a year later.
AHA Colorado is working to combat youth e-cigarette use through public policy approaches and educational campaigns. The AHA is working with organizations, health partners, cities and the state legislature on a variety of ways to limit youth e-cigarette use including: helping to raise the legal tobacco age to 21, increasing regulations and taxes on tobacco products, limiting locations where e-cigarettes may be used, and working to ban flavored nicotine products.
As of 2015, both Dallas and Tarrant counties rank in the top 10 in the nation with the number of children who are food insecure. When people lack access to healthy food, they are at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. To protect our children’s health, the AHA is working with community partners, elected officials and developers to address food insecurity challenges in socially at-risk populations within the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
An obesity epidemic impacts virtually every aspect of Oklahoma’s overall health. In fact, the 2019 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings indicate that all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties are either trending down or holding steady when it comes to obesity. The AHA’s Oklahoma chapter has begun to combat the issue using both educational and public policy approaches. Government Relations staff advocated this session, and will continue to fight for legislation which would set nutrition and physical activity standards for licensed child care centers throughout the state.
San Antonio has regularly been ranked as one of the “fattest” cities in the U.S., but over the last few years, we have seen that change to joining the ranks of healthy and health-improved cities in the country. While this is great news, there is still much more work to be done.
During American Heart Month in February, Nora Silva, Senior CI Director, participated in several media interviews to discuss the need for blood pressure education, cholesterol education, and “knowing your numbers” in general in order to improve one’s own health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cardiac arrest, or stroke. This particular conversation with a Univision Radio reporter took place in both English and Spanish and ran across local radio stations at various points in their individual February programming.