By SHANNON WATKINS
Sophie Wenzel, MPH, the Virginia Department of Health’s new Region 3 heart disease and stroke prevention coordinator, is spearheading a regional collaborative effort to reduce heart disease and stroke.
This campaign, which is part of the Million Hearts Initiative, is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Center for Medicaid Services. Its goal is to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. over a five-year period. Virginia is the third station in the nation to join.
“Most heart disease is completely preventable,” said Wenzel, who works out of the New River Health District in Christiansburg. “Southwest Virginia in particular has higher rates of heart disease and stroke than the rest of Virginia,” she said, citing the three biggest causes of these in general are obesity, diabetes, and tobacco usage.
She is working to create a network of local partners who will join the project. “We’re still in the partnership-building phase,” she noted.
The scope of the campaign will stretch from Roanoke and Lynchburg, south to Danville and Lee County.
On April 25there will be an invitation-only event for the partners, held in Christiansburg, although a venue has not been chosen.
Those wishing to learn more about participating in the Million Hearts Initiative can call Sophie Wenzel at the Virginia Department of Health in Christiansburg at 540-381-7100, ext. 124.