Heart disease and stroke are the number one and number three leading causes of death in Texas. The risk factors for heart disease and stroke, physical inactivity, poor eating habits, obesity, tobacco use, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes, are either maintaining current levels or increasing in both populations. The physical environment can also be a major contributor to the problem, due to a lack of opportunities to participate in forms of physical activity, an abundance of high fat food options available at low costs, and increased hours of television and computer time. To add to the burden, most communities are not ready to react to a cardiovascular emergency.
Changes in policies and environmental settings where people work, congregate or live can encourage choices for increasing daily physical activity, selecting healthier foods, and decreasing exposure to tobacco products or by-products such as smoke. Health-conscious policies can drive positive environmental change such as placing life saving devices in desirable and highly effective public locations, preserving park space and resources, and encouraging employers to offer preventive service coverage.
The Texas Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke Program, in collaboration with its partners from business, health care, school, and community organizations, has developed a list of indicators that, when present in a community, can assist in promoting a healthy environment for its inhabitants
The Texas Healthy Communities Program is based on proven interventions that have made a significant differences in increasing physical activity and better eating habits, as well as reducing tobacco use, and decreasing response time to heart attacks and strokes.