The U-S saw a surge in cardiovascular-related deaths during the first year of the pandemic. Voices from South Dakota’s health community hope it spurs more work to prevent these outcomes. New findings from the American Heart Association show more than 920-thousand heart-related deaths in 2020 – the highest total since 2003. The report says it shows how COVID-19 can impact cardiovascular health, including connections to risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
Chrissy Meyer, A-H-A’s spokesperson for South Dakota, says that’s why it’s vital for people to get C-P-R training, knowing that most cardiac arrests happen inside the home.
“If you’re ever called upon to give CPR, it most likely is going to be for a family member or a friend, or someone you know and love. And so, that’s really kind of where the urgency comes in, so that everyone is trained and knows how to respond in a cardiac emergency.”
Meyer says it’s also important to consider healthier lifestyle choices, from eating to exercise, to keep those risk factors at bay.
Shannon Bacon with the Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas says many social and structural barriers can affect health outcomes. She says that’s why community health centers are now tailoring their patient screenings to look at what she describes as the “social drivers of health.”
“And so, this is a recognition that we can provide excellent clinical care – and yet, we also need to pay attention and ask questions like, ‘Does someone have enough food at home? Do they have a place to sleep? Are they at risk of losing housing?’”
Bacon says that can spark conversations about how to access other types of resources. She adds South Dakota’s passage of Medicaid expansion last year (Nov. 2022) will play a role in establishing more equitable health outcomes.