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Jan. 27, 2011

DHEC urges awareness of risk factors for heart disease and stroke

COLUMBIA, S.C. – February is American Heart Month and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is urging South Carolinians to learn more about what might increase their risk for heart disease and stroke.

"You can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by controlling your high blood pressure, reducing salt intake, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and limiting your alcohol," said Joy Brooks, director of DHEC's Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Division. "Some recent data indicate South Carolinians are taking those steps as heart disease recently dropped to the second leading cause of death in the state behind cancer. Heart disease accounted for 22 percent of all deaths in the state in 2008, the most recent year for which we have verified data."

Brooks said better lifestyle habits, such as making healthy food choices and making physical activity a part of your daily routine can also reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Risk factors for heart disease and stroke include:

  • Hypertension: High blood pressure often has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people don't realize they have it. It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.
  • Sodium Consumption: Most of the sodium we consume is in the form of salt. Too much sodium is bad for your health. It can increase your blood pressure and your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
  • Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body needs. But, when you have too much in your blood, it can build up on the walls of your arteries. This can lead to heart disease and stroke.
  • Secondhand Smoke: Tobacco smoke can cause health problems not only for smokers, but also for people around them. Breathing secondhand smoke increases a person's risk for a heart attack and other heart conditions.

For more information, visit DHEC's website at:


For more information:
Betsy Crick – (803) 545-4496
E-mail –
Adam Myrick – (803) 898-3884
E-mail –