Deaths from heart disease go down in Los Angeles County

By: Smitha Bondade


Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News:


image Los Angeles County experienced a huge milestone in the number one cause of death over the last decade. Director of the county’s public health department Dr. Jonathan Fielding says deaths from heart disease have gone down 41 percent. This means 9,000 fewer deaths annually from heart attacks. The number of deaths from strokes also went down by 2000. Dr. Fielding says there are few key reasons for the decline.

“One is public education,” Fielding said. “Secondly, important advances in both medical and surgical treatment of cardiovascular disease so that even when somebody has a disease, the risk of death from that disease has declined substantially.”

But there is still more work to do.

“We still have much higher raters of cardiovascular disease from heart attacks and strokes in African Americans,” Fielding said.

The American Heart Association defines seven ways of improving cardiovascular health.

“They’re get active, eat better, lose weight, stop smoking, control your cholesterol, manage your blood pressure and reduce your blood sugar,” said Shannon Lawrence of the heart assocation.

He says everyone can adopt a healthier lifestyle and make healthy choices.

BLOG: Income and ethnicity prove determinants in health of women

A recent study found that income and ethnicity are determining factors in the health of Los Angeles women.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released Health Indicators for Women on March 3.

It reported an increased risk of premature death for African American women, a disproportionate lack of insurance in the Latina community and an insufficient amount of preventative treatment for Asian American women.

“I think, in general, the report is pretty accurate as to what we see here,” John Merryman, spokesman for the South Bay Family Health Care, which has clinics in Redondo Beach, Inglewood, Gardena and Carson, told the Daily Breeze.

Findings included:

*Eight hundred and two African American women out of 100,000 died prematurely, compared to the county average of 556 per 100,000.

*More than a third of the Latina community is uninsured. Six percent of white women are uninsured.

*Asian/Pacific Islanders are the least likely group to have a Pap test in the last three years or a mammogram in the last two years.

*Only 54 percent of uninsured women had a mammogram in the last two years. Seventy-nine percent of women with private insurance had one.

*South Los Angeles had the highest obesity rate among women at 41 percent.

Health Indicators for Women failed to include the percentage of women who are illegal immigrants and the effects of their citizenship on their health.

The Department of Public Health hopes this report will be influential in closing these gaps in health care.

“Our physical and social environment impacts everyone’s health and there are terrible discrepancies,” Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the director of the county health department, told the Daily Breeze.

Merryman said access to health care is the biggest issue presented in the study, calling it the thing to “even the playing field.”

But Dr. Rita Singhal, an author of the report, told the Los Angeles Times that this issue transcends access, especially in the African American female community. She suspects that racial discrimination and stress also play a role.

“What types of resources are required to meet the needs of these women? That’s something we need policy makers to look at,” Singhal said.

Students combat obesity in South Los Angeles

There is an empty park in South Los Angeles. Tall fences surround its perimeter, the gates are locked, and the sign above the padlock states that community members must get a permit to enter. It does not give information about how to obtain that permit.

The surrounding community is literally locked out of this park, a place that could facilitate exercise and physical activity.

This park is just one of the many resources denied to South Los Angeles residents, and the area’s students are fed up.

Twenty students from the Accelerated School teamed up with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health in August 2008 to spread awareness about obesity in their community. A similar program was established in Baldwin Park. Their means: a social networking website called We’re Fed Up. [Read more…]