Heart diseases or Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), four out of heart disease deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes, and one-third of these deaths occur prematurely in people under 70 years of age.
Many factors contribute to the development of heart diseases. Two of these factors, age, and heredity, are involuntary causes. The risk of heart disease increases around the age of 55 in women and 45 in men. Unfortunately, this risk becomes greater if heart disease is hereditary. However, the primary and most influential causes of heart disease are obesity and an unhealthy diet, leading to an unhealthy lifestyle. The rush of this generation has diverted people to choose the easy way of achieving or reaching deadlines. Like a flock of sheep, people herd around fast-food corners and restaurants to eat out and reach their workplace early. Eating out saves time but the after-effects of this action are sharply undermined.
Apart from this, the most affected community that fails to grasp even the smallest health benefits to treat such deadly heart diseases is the underprivileged and disadvantaged minority sections of the society that is constantly deprived of basic health facilities. This became the prime objective for Saint Louis University researcher Devita Stallings, Ph.D., RN, to improve and impart the basic treatments related to the heart health of St. Louis communities. Stallings became involved in the Hands-Only training as a volunteer with the American Heart Association (AHA). Over the past seven years, she has also offered the training throughout the St. Louis region, including at the 2019 Hands-Only Mobile CPR tour sponsored by Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and the AHA at Panera Bread’s Support Center.
Stallings’s research focuses on self-management behaviours of cardiovascular diseases in minority populations. As part of her work, Stallings has conducted research on physical activity and diet behaviours in African Americans with hypertension, and she is cultivating a growing interest in older adult populations. She feels that keeping hearts healthy is what drives her research and study so passionately. She is tirelessly working to keep hearts healthy in underrepresented communities through her teaching, research, and service.
Stallings remarked, “My ‘why’ for doing this work is that every person regardless of race or ethnicity, age or socioeconomic conditions deserves to live the healthiest life possible. Many populations are misunderstood or not completely understood when it comes to the choices that they make when it comes to health. My goal is to meet people where they are and partner with them to make heart-healthy choices.”
Make a healthy choice each day and keep a healthy heart.