Celebrating a Heart Health Hero

Celebrating A Heart Health Hero

By Reed Tuckson, M.D.

The heroes in our life rarely proclaim themselves with capes and theme music, and many of them live their lives without ever receiving the recognition they deserve. That’s why our America’s Health Rankings team works year round to recognize the often-unsung individuals who are making real differences in population health.

September 29th marks World Heart Day, which provides me the opportunity  to use my blog post this month to introduce you to Namvar Zohoori, MD, MPH, PhD, who until recently served as the chronic disease prevention and control director and the associate director for science for the Arkansas Department of Health.

Arkansas lies along the nation’s “stroke belt,” where the stroke death rate is 1.5 times the national average. As the project director for the Delta States Stroke Network (DSSN), Dr. Zohoori developed an innovative partnership  with similar programs in the other stoke belt states – Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee – to leverage resources and identify best practices. He also led the creation of Arkansas’s Chronic Disease State Plan, which laid the groundwork for reducing the burden of chronic diseases in his state.

Additionally, this energetic coalition builder was instrumental in convening the Chronic Disease Coordinating Council, developing the Arkansas Cardiovascular Health Examination Survey and launching the Arkansas Stroke Registry Program. Taken together, his body of work illustrates the importance of building coalitions and using evidence-based programs and data to successfully address public health challenges.

Dr. Zohoori was nominated as a Public Health Hero shortly after he accepted the position as the Director of the Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His nominator characterized him as “an unwavering advocate for lowering the burden of chronic diseases in Arkansas.” While I am sure the state of Arkansas will miss him, the CDC, and the nation, are fortunate to have amongst its ranks a public health professional with such outstanding experience and perseverance.

This is just one hero of many.  Click here to find out who was selected as your state’s Public Health Hero or learn how to nominate your choice for next year.