Category: Healthy Communities

Ninety percent of the nation’s $4.5 trillion in annual health care expenditures are for people with chronic and mental health conditions.1,2 Interventions to prevent and manage these diseases have significant health and economic benefits.

Chronic Disease Day is observed annually on July 10 to raise awareness that seven of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. stem from chronic illnesses. At Well-Ahead, we are working every day to offer creative solutions and drive collaboration across the state to ensure that residents have the opportunity to thrive throughout the course of their lives.

All our prevention programs are targeted to combat the effects of chronic disease on our residents. By empowering providers, organizations and communities to be active participants in making policy, system and environmental changes, we can help make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Heart disease and stroke

Nothing kills more Americans than heart disease and stroke. More than 934,500 Americans die of heart disease or stroke every year—that’s more than 1 in 4 deaths. In Louisiana, heart disease is the leading cause of death and strokes are the fifth cause of death.3

Well-Ahead empowers leaders in key organizations across the state to take an active role in the fight against heart disease in our communities. By making healthy living easy and accessible through Community-Based Blood Pressure Monitoring Programs, the Population Health Cohort, and our WISEWOMAN program, we can move Louisiana’s health forward.


Each year in the United States, 1.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer, and more than 600,000 die from it, making it the second leading cause of death. Tobacco use is linked to many cancers that affect Americans, and one in four adults smoke in Louisiana.

To be a healthier Louisiana, we need to be a tobacco-free Louisiana. Well-Ahead Louisiana supports communities, schools, and residents as they make changes to go tobacco-free.


More than 38 million Americans have diabetes, and another 98 million adults in the United States have prediabetes, which puts them at risk for type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can cause serious complications, including heart disease, kidney failure, and blindness. The prevalence of diabetes in Louisiana adults is 20% higher than all US adults.4

Family, food and fun makes life in Louisiana hard to beat. But through initiatives such as the National Diabetes Prevention Program, Louisiana Obesity and Diabetes Collaborative, and diabetes education and training for healthcare providers, Well-Ahead is taking an active role in the fight against diabetes.


Obesity affects 20% of children and 42% of adults, putting them at risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. 40% of all Louisiana residents have obesity, which can fill Tiger Stadium.

By empowering leaders across the state to work together, Well-Ahead is working to improve the health of our residents at every stage of life – from early childhood, to schools, to workplaces – by promoting healthy living.

Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia, is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that affects nearly 7 million Americans, including 1 in 9 adults aged 65 and older. Two-thirds of these older adults (4.1 million) are women. Deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease more than doubled between 2000 and 2019, increasing 145%.

Through programs such as the Louisiana Alzheimer’s Coalition and our Healthy Aging initiative, Well-Ahead is working to implement effective Alzheimer’s interventions, including boosting early detection and diagnosis, reducing risk and preventing avoidable hospitalizations in Louisiana.

Tooth decay

Cavities (also called tooth decay) are one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. One in six children aged 6 to 11 years and 1 in 4 adults have untreated cavities.

From the Community Water Fluoridation effort to our School Dental Sealant Program, Well-Ahead is making strides when it comes to improving oral health outcomes in our state.

1. Buttorff C, Ruder T, Bauman M. Multiple Chronic Conditions in the United States. Rand Corp.; 2017.

2. National health expenditure data: historical. Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Updated December 13, 2023. Accessed February 6, 2024.

3. CDC, WISQARS Leading Cause of Death Reports, 2017.

4. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 2022.