Heart disease and stroke impact the lives of many of North Carolina’s citizens. Heart disease and stroke are the second and fourth leading causes of death. The Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force works through our Action Agenda to reduce heart disease and stroke in North Carolina.
Established in 1995 through legislation passed by the N.C. General Assembly, the Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force is comprised of clinicians, members of the General Assembly, public health leaders and many partners who are committed to environmental and systems change to improve cardiovascular health. The Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force and its Stroke Advisory Council work with stakeholders throughout the state to prevent cardiovascular disease and to promote timely diagnosis and effective treatment of acute cardiovascular events.
Accomplishments of the Justus-Warren Task Force include the following:
- Implementing the Action Agenda in 2017 to advance legislative priorities
- Serving as a major contributor to the reduction of North Carolina’s heart disease and stroke morbidity and mortality rates since its inception.
- Narrowing the gap in stroke mortality between North Carolina and the United States.
- Serving as a champion for North Carolina’s smoke-free laws including the 2005 ban on smoking on the House floor followed by the banning in 2007 of smoking in all governmental buildings, the ban on smoking in state government motor fleet vehicles in 2008 and the local authority provided to community colleges to prohibit smoking and all tobacco use on community college campuses in 2008, and the 2009 law that made all North Carolina bars and restaurants smoke-free.
- Successfully implementing public awareness campaigns on the dangers/health risks of hypertension and secondhand smoke, on the importance of recognizing the signs and symptoms of heart disease and stroke and immediately calling 911 and on stroke prevention.
- Collaborating with statewide partners to develop comprehensive plans for the prevention and management of heart disease and stroke
Creation of the Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force
The American Heart Association, the North Carolina Medical Society, the North Carolina Hospital Association, the state’s four academic medical centers and other influential organizations partnered with the N.C. Division of Public Health to support legislation to establish a legislative task force. In 1995, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation establishing the North Carolina Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force. In 2003, the Task Force was renamed (SL 2003-284) to honor the contributions of Representative Larry Justus of Hendersonville and Senator Ed Warren of Greenville. Both legislative champions were instrumental in the creation of the Justus-Warren Task Force and died of cardiovascular disease.
In 2006, North Carolina’s stroke mortality rates were among the highest in the nation. In order to address this alarming fact, the General Assembly passed legislation establishing the Stroke Advisory Council to advise the Justus-Warren Task Force regarding the development of a statewide system of stroke care which included a process for identifying and disseminating information about the location of primary stroke centers (SL 2013-44).
The North Carolina Medical Journal December 2012 issue covers more information about the Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force.
The Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force and partners at the Division of Public Health have developed multiple media campaigns focused on various stroke prevention messages including emphasizing the importance of controlling high blood pressure. Public awareness and media campaigns since 2006 have addressed secondhand smoke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke.
In 2019 the Small Steps, Bright Future stroke prevention campaign ran in eastern North Carolina to address high stroke incidence and health disparities. Campaign ads are available for use and co-branding.
The Start With Your Heart website launched in 2000, and in 2019 the Stroke System of Care Strategies and Action Plan went live. Through the process of developing these strategies, the Stroke Advisory Council identified priority areas which will guide future work.
Videos from past media campaignsare under the Videos and Radio Ads under Resources.