CARMEL, NY – Last week, Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne officially proclaimed February 3, 2023 as Wear Red Day in Putnam County. As part of this campaign the County Executive directed that the Historic County Court House be illuminated red for the weekend of February 3-5, and joined employees in wearing red to raise awareness about heart disease. Heart disease has long been a leading cause of death in Putnam County, as it is around the country. From 2010 to 2019 heart disease constituted the leading cause of death in Putnam County, except for 2016, when it was second.
“Everyone knows someone who has had heart disease,” said Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne, a longtime supporter, and former employee, of the American Heart Association. “It is a serious threat to our residents, but it’s preventable through simple lifestyle changes, which is exactly what we are trying to raise awareness about. I encourage everyone to take steps toward a healthier life, whether it’s by exercising, eating healthier, or speaking to their personal physician about their potential risk.”
County Executive Byrne, who as an Assemblyman served as Ranker on the State Assembly’s Health Committee, counts this issue among his top concerns. Byrne continued, “I also thank all of our county employees who participated for their commitment to this cause and for setting a positive example for our community.”
This February, as Heart Month is commemorated again, as it has for seven decades, many individuals participated in the national observance by wearing red and sharing photos. Putnam County employees from many departments along with some of the seniors from the Putnam Valley Senior Center got in on the action by snapping photos to share online.
“Multiple factors can compound your risk of developing heart disease. Among the most common risk factors are family history, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and hyperlipidemia or high cholesterol,” said Commissioner of Health Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD. “While genetics is the greatest risk factor, social and behavioral determinants also play a part. For example, stopping smoking reduces the risk for heart disease by half, and is key in the management of blood clots, abnormal heart rhythms and build-up of plaque on the artery walls, also known as atherosclerosis—which all contribute to heart attack risk.”
Putnam County Department of Health in collaboration with Putnam Hospital Center offer an evidence-based smoking cessation program. “While behavior change can be a challenge, making sure that all residents have access to a free and effective method to quit smoking is one way to make being smoke-free a reality for more of our residents,” said Dr. Nesheiwat.
In addition to not smoking or quitting tobacco, other behavioral aspects that reduce heart disease risk include eating a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol use. Other important selfcare and medical care steps include checking cholesterol levels, controlling blood pressure, managing diabetes and following doctors’ orders for screening tests and medications if necessary. Even with a healthy lifestyle, checking cholesterol levels is important because genetic factors do play a role.
For individuals who already have hypertension, diabetes, or other chronic diseases, an online health management program offers a proven—and free—way to take control of one’s health. For a limited time until April 2023, when a federal grant is set to expire, Better Choices, Better Health® is an evidence-based, six-week, at-your-own-pace program to help adults learn how to better manage their health and chronic conditions. Online access is necessary and those interested are encouraged to register as soon as possible. The program accepts participants on a rolling basis as new classes begin. For more information or questions, please feel free to reach out to one of the sponsors the NYS Office for the Aging Evidence-Based Interventions Team at
Putnam County’s Bureau of Emergency Services provides free trainings for residents including AAHA HeartSaver First Aid and AHA HeartSaver CPR. For information on these trainings, visit: www.putnamcountyny.com/life.