Mission: To protect and improve the health and well-being of all Arkansans.
Vision: Optimal health for all Arkansans to achieve maximum personal, economic and social impact.
This scorecard outlines the Arkansas Department of Health's current health priorities and what our community leaders, partners and residents are working on together to improve the health of our state.
This is a living document that will change as our priorities, progress and landscape changes. The scorecard was designed as a companion resource to ADH's publication, Arkansas's Big Health Problems and How We Plan to Solve Them and together with this publication serves as ADH's state health improvement plan.
This plan is modeled after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's conceptual population health and prevention framework with three categories-"buckets"-of prevention. Each bucket is needed to yield the most promising results for a population, regardless of whether the population is defined narrowly, as, for example, the patients in a medical practice, or broadly, as, for example, the residents of a state.1
Source: 1 The 3 Buckets of Prevention. Retrieved August 29, 2019 from https://journals.lww.com/
Chronic diseases are very common in Arkansas because many people in our state struggle with living a healthy lifestyle. The main lifestyle problems are tobacco use, poor diet, and lack of physical activity. Lack of physical activity is a top cause of chronic diseases. Regular physical activity can lower a person’s chance of dying from chronic diseases. Physical activity is also important for managing high blood pressure and keeping a healthy weight. To get the best results, adults need at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Examples of moderate physical activity are brisk walking or riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills. Adults also need to do strengthening activities that involve the major muscles groups at least twice a week.
Poor diet is another big cause of chronic diseases. A diet high in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of dying from chronic diseases. A diet with lots of fruits and vegetables also helps to control high blood pressure and keep a healthy weight. The more servings of fruits and vegetables that a person eats, the better. The present recommendations are that half a person’s plate at each meal should be filled with fruits and vegetables.
Chronic diseases are very common in Arkansas because many people in our state struggle with two common health problems that lead them to get chronic diseases. These are obesity and high blood pressure. Obesity is a health problem that can lead to several types of chronic diseases, especially diabetes. When people become very overweight, their body fat increases to an unhealthy level. In Arkansas, almost 68 percent of adults are either overweight or obese. People who live in the counties with the shortest life expectancies are even more likely to be overweight or obese.
Tobacco use is a leading cause of the chronic diseases, particularly heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, and stroke. It is the single most preventable cause of death in Arkansas. Tobacco use kills close to 5,000 people in Arkansas each year, which makes it one of the biggest causes of short life expectancy in our state. By tobacco use, we mean smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes, or using any form of smokeless tobacco.
Excessive alcohol use can result in harms such as motor vehicle injuries, violence, heart disease, cancer, alcohol poisoning, and poor birth outcomes. Excessive alcohol use includes binge drinking (five or more drinks per occasion for men or four or more drinks per occasion for women), heavy drinking (15 or more drinks a week for men or 8 or more drinks a week for women), and any alcohol use by pregnant women or underage youth.
Excessive drinking is responsible for about 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost in the United States each year. Binge drinking is responsible for more than half of the deaths and two-thirds of the years of potential life lost resulting from excessive alcohol use. In Arkansas, each year 920 deaths and 28,226 years of potential life are lost due to the harms resulting from excessive alcohol use.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and in Arkansas. In 2016, almost 8,100 people in Arkansas died of heart disease. It was the cause of 25 percent of all deaths in the state that year. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in both Arkansas and the U.S. Arkansas has the fifth highest death rate from stroke in the nation. In 2016, almost 1,650 people in Arkansas died from stroke. Hypertension is a major public health problem in Arkansas. Almost half of all adults have high blood pressure. If not controlled, it can lead to heart disease, stroke, and death. African Americans are most affected by heart disease and stroke.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older adults. 5.7 million Americans are estimated to be living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2018. It is the fifth leading cause of death for adults aged 65 years and older, and the sixth leading cause of death for all adults. Alzheimer’s disease involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language, and, over time, can seriously affect a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. Although the cause is still unknown, scientists are learning more every day about Alzheimer’s disease and what can be done to prevent and treat this fatal illness.
A serious problem that is driving many of the social and behavioral determinants of health in Arkansas is poor mental health. In 2018 Arkansas ranked low (35th) for overall mental health when compared to other states. Lack of family and social support and even community safety play a part in mental health. Not getting enough sleep (behavioral determinant of health) also affects mental health. Access to mental health care also plays a part in mental health status. In Arkansas there are not enough mental health professionals, so many adults and children with mental illness cannot get the mental health care they need. This is especially true in rural areas. In 2017, it was estimated that there was only 1 mental health professional for every 490 people who needed mental health care.
Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death among all Arkansans. In 2016, over 900 people died in Arkansas from diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar causes serious health problems if it is not brought under control. For example, it can damage a person’s eyes, kidneys, and nerves and can cause them to lose a foot or a leg. Diabetes can also lead to heart disease and stroke.
As with other chronic diseases, diabetes can often be controlled by exercise and eating right, and by taking medicine, if needed. Unfortunately, 40 percent of Arkansans who have diabetes don’t know they have it. Of the people who know they have diabetes, only 25 percent have their blood sugar under control.
Arthritis affects 54.4 million US adults, about 1 in 4. It is a major cause of work disability in the United States and one of the most common chronic conditions in the nation. Arthritis is a common cause of chronic pain. Chronic pain caused by arthritis affects millions of people in the United States every year. About one in four adults with arthritis—15 million people—report experiencing severe joint pain related to arthritis. Additionally, nearly half of adults with arthritis have persistent pain.
Immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions, preventing millions of deaths every year. From infants to seniors, immunization protects against diseases such as diphtheria, measles, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus, rubella and tetanus. The benefits of immunization are increasingly being extended to adolescents and adults, providing protection against life-threatening diseases such as influenza, meningitis, and cancers (cervical and liver cancers).
Injuries and violent acts, such as suicide, falls, motor vehicle crashes, sexual assault, and drug overdoses are a major public health issue. In addition, millions of people are treated in emergency rooms or hospitalized due to injuries and violent acts each year. Injury and violence cross all boundaries and can affect anyone; regardless of age, sex, race or socioeconomic background. While injury and violence have a significant burden, they are also largely preventable. Recognizing the social and economic burden of injury and violence is critical to determine the appropriate level of intervention and investment into prevention activities.
In Arkansas, motor vehicle crashes are the most common cause of accidental death. In 2016, over 650 people in Arkansas died from motor vehicle accidents. Fortunately, the death rate from motor vehicle crashes has been decreasing over the past several years. During this same time, the use of seat belts in Arkansas has been increasing.