National Programs Take Aim at Cardiovascular Disease

The Million Hearts program, which led to February being named American Heart Month, and Wear Red Day, established by the American Heart Association to focus attention on women's heart issues, are both intended to reduce the toll of cardiovascular disease.

In an effort to reduce the staggering toll cardiovascular disease takes on Americans, last September the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other portions of the US government launched the Million Hearts campaign, which is intended to encourage Americans to make heart-healthy choices. February was declared American Heart Month as part of the initiative.

Further, the American Heart Association has declared today national Wear Red Day as part of an effort to focus attention on the toll heart disease takes on women.

While sponsored by different organizations, both Wear Red Day and the Million Hearts initiative are intended to increase awareness of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the US. One in every three deaths in the US is caused by heart disease or stroke, which adds up to almost 2,200 deaths per day.

"With more than 2 million heart attacks and strokes a year, and 800,000 deaths, just about all of us have been touched by someone who has had heart disease, heart attack, or a stroke,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on the CDC website.

The goal of Million Hearts is to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes in the US by 2016. Led by both the CDC and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the initiative will integrate and amplify a wide range of existing heart disease and stroke prevention programs, policies, and activities.

The idea is to persuade Americans to make healthy choices, such as avoiding tobacco use and decreasing consumption of sodium and trans fat, which should reduce the number of people who require medical treatment for high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol and reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes.

Million Hearts also aims to encourage the heart-healthy “ABCS” in cardiology patients:

  • Aspirin for at risk individuals
  • Blood pressure control
  • Cholesterol management
  • Smoking cessation

These four steps not only make the general public aware of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, they also encourage patients to take control of their heart health.