CHATTANOOGA, TN, May 21, 2024 — Visits to a doctor can help a patient find risks for heart disease and stroke, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The American Heart Association, the world's leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, is launching a new campaign titled, Doctor, It's Been Too Long, sponsored by Journey Health Foundation. The purpose of the campaign is to remind individuals of the importance of scheduling wellness check-ups and keeping track of vitals such as blood pressure, cholesterol numbers and medication management, all keys to better heart health.

Hamilton County has seen an increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions with heart disease being the leading cause of death.  Addressing these issues requires continued efforts from local community organizations to implement effective prevention and intervention strategies.

The Doctor, It’s Been Too Long campaign will include efforts to spread awareness and encourage the community to schedule regular doctor visits, regardless of circumstances that may be holding them back by utilizing social media, public transportation, mobile health clinics, and local health clinics.

"An established relationship with a health professional is a valuable component of your lifelong health and wellness," said Tracy Wood, CEO of Journey Health Foundation. "Finding a primary care doctor and seeing them as needed, both for check-ups and during times of illness is important. Your doctor has an overall picture of your needs and how to best guide your health and well-being. We urge people to take care of themselves by making regular doctor’s visits an important part of their lives.”

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death among American adults, yet many risk factors can be prevented and treated. Testing done by health professionals can ensure symptoms and other lifestyle risks, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), smoking and nutrition are addressed as a part of overall health. Medication management and health screenings through doctors' visits are effective tools in addressing cardiovascular risks, as well as other health issues, which is especially important to the approximately 60% of adults in the U.S. who have a chronic disease [1]

For some people though, going to the doctor does not come easy. Data shows the top reasons Americans avoid seeing a doctor include high cost, busy schedules and a lack of health insurance.[2]  A report by the Federal Reserve on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2022, indicates 28% of adults in the U.S. went without some form of medical care in 2022 due to cost, [3] with 16% reporting they had not seen a doctor in the past 12 months.[4] Many also face limited healthcare options or transportation, and studies show people who live in historically under resourced areas are actually more likely to develop heart disease.[5]

"Unfortunately, there are barriers to good health that many people encounter," said Emily Niespodziany, executive director of the American Heart Association, Chattanooga. “For people with few choices for health services, or those who are worried about costs, we encourage them to visit a community health center or similar option. Publicly supported transportation programs or mobile health clinics may also be available in some locations.” There are five low to no cost transportation programs in Hamilton County, nine Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), and one mobile FQHC.

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About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for a century. During 2024 - our Centennial year - we celebrate our rich 100-year history and accomplishments. As we forge ahead into our second century of bold discovery and impact our vision is to advance health and hope for everyone, everywhere. Connect with us on, Facebook, X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.   


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Beth Wright | 

For Public Inquiries: 800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention