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Health & Wellness 2024: Miller’s initiatives raising heart disease awareness

Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller has worked to raise awareness of heart disease and was responsible for every Cook County employee being trained to give emergency response to those suffering a heart attack.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Illinois, and Cook County in particular has the highest incidence of death due to heart disease in the country. This issue also disproportionately affects Black and brown communities, and it’s been my mission since I took office in 2019 to draw attention to it and help improve heart health outcomes in the county and beyond,” Miller said.

“I’m grateful every year to have the chance to educate and equip Cook County employees and residents across the area with the tools they need so they know what to do in a cardiac emergency situation, and I appreciate all of those who joined me to help share this important message!”

“Over the last year, the importance of CPR training has really come to light with such high profile cases as Damar Hamlin in the NFL and Bronny James at USC. Fortunately, they both had good outcomes, but so many people don’t because of the lack of CPR training to the general public,” said Dr. Marlon Everet, a cardiologist. “These situations underscore the importance of CPR training to a broader audience, including in the workplace and schools.”

Throughout her time in office, Miller has made it a priority to use her background in the healthcare industry to educate residents on the risks of cardiovascular disease, how to prevent it, and how to improve outcomes of cardiac events through CPR training.

To help improve outcomes for those with heart disease, Miller helped implement in-person CPR and AED training and virtual CPR and AED training for Cook County employees, an initiative that won a 2022 National Association of Counties Achievement Award. To date, hundreds of employees, along with elected officials and department heads, have taken part in the training.

Having CPR initiated by a bystander when someone is suffering from cardiac arrest can almost double or triple the chances of survival.

CPR/AED training is particularly important for African American and Latino individuals, who are 30-50% less likely to have bystander CPR performed when suffering from a cardiac event than white adults.
Women are also less likely to receive bystander CPR because people fear accusations of inappropriate touching or injuring the person.

Only 39% of women receive bystander CPR in public compared to 45% of men, who have a 23% higher chance of surviving a cardiac event than women.

In 2022, Miller released a report titled “Cardiovascular Health in the Southland,” which examined the impacts of location and race on cardiovascular disease survival and outcomes in suburban Cook County.
The report found that overall, cardiovascular disease-related deaths occur more frequently in county’s south jurisdiction, which has a substantial Black population.

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