Southwest Virginia ranks high in health problems



As a part of the ongoing Million Hearts Initiative, the Virginia Department of Health’s Region 3 heart disease and stroke prevention coordinator, Sophie Wenzel, provided statistics indicating need for greater awareness of health issues facing southwest Virginians.

According to data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s health survey in 2011, southwest Virginia ranks higher than both the Virginia and national averages for several kinds of heart and health issues.

The survey is officially called the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and is a telephone survey using both landline and cell phone numbers. Statistics are based on answers of those who responded.

The relevant data comes from the Virginia Department of Health’s information on Region 3, which is southwest Virginia.

According to the survey, the percentage of respondents nationwide told by a healthcare provider that they have had a heart attack is 4.4. The percentage is 4.0 in Virginia as a whole and 6.3 percent in southwest Virginia.

The nationwide percentage of respondents told by a healthcare provider that they have had a stroke is 3.9, 3.2 percent in Virginia as a whole and 5.0 in southwest Virginia.

Southwest Virginia also ranks higher than both the nation and Virginia in coronary heart disease, blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity and smoking, and lower in regular exercise.

“The good news is that we have people out there who are trying to make a difference,” said Wenzel. At the Million Hearts Initiative partner event last month, she said, “Thirty nine people came together to see how they can help prevent chronic diseases.” She stressed the ABCs of heart health—aspirin therapy for those who need it, blood pressure control, cholesterol management and quitting smoking—as important to discuss with healthcare providers and practice to prevent heart problems.

For more information about the Million Hearts Initiative, contact Sophie Wenzel at the Virginia Department of Health at (540) 381-7100 ext. 124 or email at














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