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Dr. Mitchell S. V. Elkind, a member of the American Heart Association’s Board of Directors, is gravely concerned about the high rates of hypertension in New York City.  And he’s pushing the city to do something about it. 

Dr. Elkind recently submitted testimony to the New York City Board of Public Health, supporting the proposal to place a warning icon next to restaurant menu items when food possesses a dangerous level of sodium.

In a recent interview, Dr. Elkind, a neurology and epidemiology professor at Columbia University in New York, stated that “people really have no idea how much salt they’re eating, and many would be shocked to discover they can get their full recommended daily salt intake at a single meal, or even a single dish. We have to educate them every step of the way, instead of just putting out a pamphlet that nobody reads. Educating people at the place where they’re actually eating could make a big difference.”

In his comments to the Board of Health, Dr. Elkind emphasized that dietary salt consumption is one of the most important, modifiable factors that can impact one’s blood pressure. If we reduced our individual salt intake, even slightly, we could prevent as many as 32,000 deaths per year.

In research published in 2012, Dr. Elkind worked with a team of clinicians and epidemiologists to analyze data from a cohort study designed to determine stroke incidence, risk factors, and prognosis in a multiethnic urban population from northern Manhattan.  Their findings underscore the need for public health initiatives, like the proposal in NYC, to reduce the sodium level in our food supply.

Dr. Elkind, as an advocate for the American Heart Association, looks forward to the NYC Board of Health’s vote on the Sodium Warning Icon proposal and its swift implementation this winter.

Summer may be seen a slower time in in the legislature, but that’s not the case with the Department of Health Task Force to Study Stroke. The group has begun meeting regularly and it’s clear that everyone in the group is dedicated to improving stroke systems of care in Connecticut. The group recently met this past Tuesday and began fleshing out the beginning pieces of the recommendations they will make to the Connecticut General Assembly in the 2016 legislative session.

It’s exciting to watch the legislative process right from the start and see how the different groups work together to craft a final product. It will be interesting to see what the recommendations look like, but there appears to be consensus in the group that whatever the final product is, it should include the implementation of a tiered system of stroke facility designation and the establishment of a statewide stroke registry. These two provisions would ensure that if a person suffers a stroke they can be transported the nearest stroke center in the shortest amount of time and the registry will collect data that will help inform decisions and best practices when treating stroke.

The Task Force will be meeting the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month, this is an aggressive meeting schedule and they are even looking to expand the end date of the Task Force past the July 16, 2016 deadline to ensure systems of care in Connecticut are able to adapt to the ever changing field of medicine. So stay tuned.

In other news, Governor Malloy held a ceremonial bill signing on Wednesday, August 5th for Senate Bill 962, which will require all students to receive CPR training prior to graduation. AHA volunteer Mahika Jhangiani is pictured with Governor Malloy in the photo above. Mahika, a certified Emergency Medical Responder since she was a sophomore in high school, testified in support of SB 962 and teaches hands-only CPR to students in Norwalk.

Dr. Amre Nouh is a stroke specialist at Hartford Hospital and he has been appointed as the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association representative to the Department of Public Health Task Force to Study Stroke.

Dr. Nouh brings a wealth of experience to the table and has held a variety of positions in the hospital and academic setting. His experience includes working as the Director of the Outpatient Stroke Center at Hartford Hospital, where he is also the acting Neurology Residency Site director and Stroke Inpatient Team Council. Dr. Nouh also is also the co-chair of the Stroke Research Council at Hartford Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Neurology at UCONN.

As the task force continues to work throughout the summer we look forward to supporting Dr. Nouh and the rest of the task force members to ensure we are able to treat someone who has suffered stroke with the highest quality of care.