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ND Helps Lead Decline in Deaths from Heart Disease and Stroke


Monday, August 25, 2014   

BISMARCK, N.D. – Cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer in the state and the nation, but the latest study shows that progress is being made, and health professionals credit ongoing initiatives in North Dakota.

Shelly Arnold, manager of trauma, stroke and cardiac care at Sanford Health in Bismarck, says one key in improving outcomes locally has been the establishment of statewide systems of stroke and cardiac care.

"It goes all the way from the very beginning of when a patient has any types of signs and symptoms,” she explains. “Getting those patients to the right hospital, the hospital that can provide the best level of care, as well as working with both the small and the larger hospitals in the state of North Dakota on having standardized protocols."

According to new research in the American Heart Association journal "Circulation," hospitalizations and deaths from heart disease and stroke in the U.S. dropped significantly in the last decade.

In addition to the improvements in quality of care, also contributing to the decrease were public awareness, prevention strategies and improved lifestyle.

Arnold says in North Dakota that includes the smoke-free law, which bans smoking in all enclosed areas of public places and places of employment.

"Some of our biggest risk factors for patients with any type of cardiovascular disease is smoking so anytime that we can decrease the amount of smoking and get rid of smoking and any type of tobacco use, the better it is for all of the patients," she says.

Arnold adds another major risk factor is high blood pressure.

"Hypertension is a big problem: identifying it and treating it and staying on your meds,” she says. “So the more work that we can do around hypertension, it really does impact our cardiovascular system and helps with any of those diseases that impact that as well."

Arnold urges folks across the state to learn the signs of stroke and heart attack and to call 911 as quickly as possible upon onset of symptoms.

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