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Major Grant Should Help South Dakota Heart Health

April 20, 2010

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Survival chances are likely to be improving for South Dakotans who suffer heart attacks. The American Heart Association of South Dakota has received a three-year, $8.4 million grant for a program to improve the system of care for heart attack victims.

Darrin Smith, Senior Director for Advocacy for the Heart Association, says the grant from the Leona and Harry Helmsley Charitable Trust will move the state to the front of the line in heart attack response.

"When it's all said and done, we literally will have one of the most, if not the most advanced, coordinated heart attack systems of care anywhere in the United States."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, South Dakota has one of the highest death rates in the country for a certain type of heart attack. Smith says the grant will give assistance to every ambulance service and hospital in the state.

"We'll be able to track the data in a quality way that we've never been able to in the past, so this is really going to put South Dakota on the map in terms of heart attack care. And it's going to make us a leader, and we're going to develop a model here that we can then go and replicate in other states in the Midwest and across the country."

Smith says more than 20 stakeholder groups across the state will be involved in the implementation of the program over the next three years.

"This is going to do more for health care in South Dakota than anything that's ever been done, in our opinion."

More information is available at

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD