COLUMN: Heart Health and Alzheimers Awareness

Heart Health and Alzheimer's Awareness

By Lieutenant Governor Mark A. Darr
This week, as you know, is Valentine's Day. And, as many of you will be celebrating by buying your loved one a box of heart-shaped candy, federal, state, and local public health agencies and private organizations all over the country are focusing on promoting heart health.

This Friday, I will be speaking at an event in Hot Springs promoting a national project called the Million Hearts Initiative. It is aimed at preventing one million heart attacks and strokes in the next five years. Heart attack and stroke are the number one and number three causes of death in Arkansas, respectively.

It is imperative that we all work together to end these deaths which can be preventable. We as parents have to be better examples to our children. We have to encourage daily exercise. That could mean simply getting on the trampoline at home and jumping for thirty minutes or taking your kids skating.

Since I was elected Lt. Governor, I have worked closely with the Arkansas Heart Association. It is something that I have grown more and more passionate about. The National Lieutenant Governors Association will again this year be sponsoring the "Your Heart Is In Your Hands" campaign to raise awareness of cardiovascular health. The campaign will cover issues including heart disease and stroke, and contributing factors to heart and stroke risk such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, and arthrosclerosis. The campaign will highlight nutrition, fitness and health. The message of this campaign is to help individuals understand that they have it within their own power and ability to make substantial health improvement. The campaign will kick off later this year so please be sure and follow our Facebook page and Twitter account for more information.

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On February 23, Kim and I will be participating in the Eighth Annual Chilirhea event in Fayetteville. I always look forward to events where I get to judge who cooked the best chili (as if I need it). What's better though, is that this is a charity event to benefit people in Northwest Arkansas affected by Alzheimer's and their families. It is sponsored by Alzheimer's Arkansas and the American Alzheimer's Association. In just a few years, this event has grown from 15 people to over 600. This year's event aims to raise $25,000 for the cause.

Alzheimer's affects more than 60,000 Arkansans and will become increasingly important to fight as the number of individuals age 60 and over doubles in the coming decade. According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's is now the nation's sixth-leading cause of death. It is the only cause of death among the top ten in America that can't be prevented, cured or even slowed.

To get more information about this upcoming event, visit www.chilirhea.net.