News Releases

News Releases

DHEC Reminds South Carolinians of the Importance of being Heart Smart

February 8, 2019

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is reminding South Carolinians of the importance of being heart smart and adopting positive habits that build a strong and healthy heart. 

February is American Heart Month, a national campaign that spotlights cardiovascular health. Heart disease was the number one cause of death in South Carolina in 2017, and it is a leading cause of early death and disability. Although people older than 65 are at the greatest risk, heart disease is the second-leading cause of death for those 45 to 64 years old, third-leading cause of death for people 25 to 44 years old and fourth for those as young as 18 to 24.

“Small changes can make a big difference,” said Virginie Daguise, PhD, Director of DHEC’s Bureau of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention. “It’s important to take charge of your health. There are several ways to make positive changes to your heart’s health at any age.”

Tips for a healthy heart include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Regularly checking cholesterol and blood pressure numbers
  • Not smoking and limiting exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Limiting alcohol use
  • Taking medications as directed
  • Managing diabetes
  • Eating a healthy diet that's low in fat, cholesterol and salt
  • Exercising for at least 30 minutes most days of the week

“Data shows heart disease is occurring in younger adults more often,” Daguise said. “This is partly due to risk factors such as obesity and high blood pressure occurring earlier in life.” 

Obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking are major risk factors for heart disease, and almost three quarters of South Carolina residents have one or more risk factor. Additionally, African Americans face a higher risk of developing heart disease than Caucasians. In 2017, more than 2,700 African Americans died from heart disease statewide.

DHEC encourages all South Carolinians to start at least one new heart-healthy habit this year. To learn more about heart disease, visit  or


Health Heart Media Relations