NEWS | February 25, 2004

Heart disease and stroke public forum aims to decrease death and disability in California


A public forum to provide critical, local input on heart disease and stroke prevention and treatment will be held Friday, February 27, 2004, from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at the UC Davis Cancer Center Auditorium, 4501 X St., Sacramento. Input from this forum, and six other public forums throughout the state will be included in a report that will be submitted to a State Task Force to be appointed by the Governor and Legislature later this year.

Major underwriters for this project are the American Heart Association, Kaiser Permanente, and AstraZeneca provided an unrestricted educational grant.

Amparo Villablanca, MD, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center, is chairperson for the public forum. “Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in both men and women in California. These diseases have reached alarming epidemic proportions and pose an enormous social and economic burden. Yet, these are essentially preventable diseases,” according to Dr. Villablanca.

This Task Force is charged, under new legislation, AB 1220, with developing a California Master Plan for heart disease and stroke prevention and treatment for the state in order to reduce morbidity, mortality and the economic burden in the state. This law was championed by the AHA, a designated partner of the California Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program (CHDSP) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CHDSP is staffing this project.

AB 1220 officially became law, January 1, 2004, and is listed under the Health and Safety Code # 104141. The other public forums will be held in Fresno, Eureka, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. The first public forum was held in San Bernardino, in January.

Invited panelists include: Cheryl Philips, M.D., Director, Sutter Medical Group; Allan D. Siefkin, M.D., Executive Director of UC Davis Medical Group and Professor of Medicine; John Bissell, M.D., Chief of Neurology, Kaiser South; John Yao, M.D., Senior Medical Director, Blue Shield of California; Michael Carl, M.D., Chief of Emergency Medicine, Kaiser South; Cathy Rasmusson, Principal Consultant, Healthy Business Designs, LLC; Selinda Shontz, R.D.; Senior Director of Stroke Programs, AHA; Dianne Hyson, Ph.D., Researcher and Assistant Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences Nutrition Food/Dietetics, California State University, Sacramento; Carrie Sens, R.N., President of the California Society for Cardiac Rehabilitation and Dr. Villablanca.

Anyone attending the forums may respond to the following questions either during the public comment portion of each forum or in writing, or by e-mailing Jeanne Emmick of CHDSP.

The questions are:

1. What are the three most important changes in California that need to be made in order to reduce death and disability from heart disease and stroke?

2. What do people in California need to learn about heart disease and stroke? What do physicians and healthcare professionals need to learn more about heart disease and stroke?

3. What needs to happen in California schools, work places, and communities to prevent heart disease and stroke?

4. What needs to change in the healthcare setting to improve?
a) prevention of heart disease and stroke, and
b) quality of treatment delivered to patients with heart disease or stroke?

5. How can we reduce health disparities in heart disease and stroke?

The Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention forums will generate urgently needed input to a state-appointed task force charged with formulating a Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and Treatment Strategic Master Plan. It will also provide a unique opportunity for all interested stakeholders to have their voices heard.

Dr. Villablanca also notes that we need to do a better job of encouraging health-promotion and healthy lifestyles, reducing the growing threat of obesity and diabetes, addressing health disparities, implementing established guidelines for lowering cardiovascular risk factors, and integrating key findings of research studies into health-care policy if we are to effectively reduce death and disability from stroke and heart disease in California. “Now,” urges Dr. Villablanca, “is a critical time for action.”