February is America Heart Month, and the American Heart Association is calling on the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to put the health of New Yorkers first, in February, and throughout the year.
In the executive budget presented on Jan. 16, Gov. Cuomo proposed consolidating several health funding lines, and cutting them by 20 percent. Two of those are the Hypertension Prevention Program and the Obesity and Diabetes Prevention Program.
“High blood pressure – hypertension – is often called ‘the silent killer,’” said Shannon Traphagen, Advocacy Committee member; chair, Board of Directors, Buffalo Niagara American Heart Association and associate publisher of Buffalo Healthy Living. “This past November, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology released new blood pressure guidelines that now have half of Americans at risk of high blood pressure. It’s critical that the current funding level for the hypertension program, which took a 20% cut last year, does not see another cut this year. In fact, an increase would go a long way toward improving the heart health of all New Yorkers – resulting in longer and healthier lives.”
Likewise, diabetes and obesity are enormous risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
“Two-thirds of New York’s adults, and one-third of our children are overweight or obese,” said Traphagen. “This generation is the first one at risk of not outliving their parents. We need to prevent this, and one way to do so is to keep the funding for the Diabetes and Obesity Program at $5.9 million. This is no place to trim the fat. We look forward to working with the state Legislature and Gov. Cuomo to improve the health of all New Yorkers.
“Heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 5 killers of all Americans. We need to support New Yorkers in their efforts of proactively preventing heart disease and stroke,” Traphagen said. “That won’t happen with a reduced budget for programs that make that possible. It’s crucial that healthcare funding be maintained – or increased.”