LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas has made it to the top of a list you don’t want to be on.
The CDC reported heart disease as the leading cause of death in the state, making Arkansas third in the nation for highest heart disease deaths in 2017.
The Arkansas Department of Health said the state ranks even higher on another heart-related list.
“I experienced it up close when my father had a heart attack. He was healthy until then, or so we thought. His was directly related to smoking,” Heart Ball director for the American Heart Association Tammy Quick said.
Quick has made it her mission to change an alarming statistic.
“There’s about a million people in Arkansas that have heart disease,” Quick said.
Arkansas Chronic Disease Director Dr. Appathurai Balamurugan said this comes as no surprise.
“We have the perfect recipe, if you would, for poor heart health. We have poor diet, and since a lot of our southern diet is fried foods,” Balamurugan said.
But another statistic is even more frightening.
“What is disheartening from the latest report is that Arkansas stands out for highest heart attack deaths in the nation,” Balamurugan said.
A few risk factors include tobacco use, poor diet, lack of physical exercise and diabetes.
You don’t have to sign up for a marathon to get healthy, just taking a few extra steps to your car each day is a good start.
“You don’t have to go on a cleanse to eat better just, pick the apple instead of the apple pie,” Quick said.
Another issue is that unhealthy foods are usually more accessible.
“We want to work with communities and schools and volunteers and anybody to help us make the right choice the easy choice,” Quick said.
Now is the time to take action before it's too late.
“Forty percent of the people die before they even reach the hospital,” Balamurugan said.
Balamurugan said more people should get outdoors and enjoy our parks and trails of the natural state.
A little more exploring can go a long way for your health.