DOH Observes World Heart Day and Cholesterol Education

Sept. 28, 2008 – The Department of Health's Primary Health Care Office is encouraging residents to take a proactive approach to heart health as part of World Heart Day on Tuesday, Sept. 30, according to a press release from Health Commissioner Vivian I. Ebbesen-Fludd.
"We encourage residents, especially those with a family history of heart disease, to make visits to their physician an annual routine," Ebbesen-Fludd said.
World Heart Day is observed internationally in September, the month also designated as National Cholesterol Education Month.
On Tuesday, residents are asked to wear red as part of the World Heart Federation's "Go Red for Women" initiative to help bring awareness to women's heart health issues.
Heart disease and stroke are leading causes of death in the Virgin Islands, according to DOH epidemiologist Eugene Tull.
Studies show that women are often under diagnosed for heart health issues because warning signs are notably different than that of men. Classic symptoms include tightness or pressure in the chest and back; radiating pain down the left arm and shoulder, shortness of breath and cold sweat.
"Persons with hypertension and those with diabetes mellitus are significantly more likely to develop heart disease compared to those who do not have these illnesses," Dr. Tull said.
Jane Washburn, a registered nurse at the department's Morris F. deCastro Clinic on St. John, compares the heart to a water pump in the home.
"When a person has high blood pressure it thickens the walls of the heart and puts stress on the rest of the blood vessels," she said, " and just as a water pump will burst at the weakest point, the same can happen inside the body which could cause a stroke in the brain or damage to the heart."
The Primary Care Office is also encouraging residents to know the difference between good and bad cholesterol as part of National Cholesterol Education Month.
There are two types of cholesterol levels: low density lipoproteins (LDL), known as bad cholesterol and high-density lipoproteins (HDL) known as good cholesterol. Ideal blood cholesterol levels should total less than 200 milligrams per deciliter with LDL at 129 or less and HDL at 40 or greater in general or 50 or greater in women.
Extremely high levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream can increase chances of developing heart disease or hypertension, according to Dr. Tull.
Recent studies in the Virgin Islands show that persons with Hispanic ethnicity, particularly black Hispanic persons, are at increased risk for heart disease, due to higher levels of insulin resistance, and a greater frequency of dyslipidemia or elevated triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol, he said.
To learn more about cholesterol and heart disease contact the Primary Care Office. E-mail to or

Print Friendly, PDF & Email