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Working to Keep (More than) a Million Hearts Healthy

Especially February, American Heart Month

heart graphic

The first American Heart Month was proclaimed by President Johnson in February 1964. Now, 54 years later, we continue to seek ways to reduce death caused by heart disease and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men and women.

The CDC Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP) national trends indicate heart disease death rates are declining more slowly than they have in the past, especially among adults ages 35 to 64. Not only are more younger adults dying of heart disease, but their rates of controllable risk factors—such as physical inactivity, tobacco use, and hypertension—are also increasing. For healthcare professionals, the imperative is to encourage and coach patients of all ages to take control of their heart health.

The CDC has several programs which ACPM supports. These include the 6|18 Initiative, which targets, among other conditions, high blood pressure, and recommends several specific actions1 for payers and providers. Another, the WISEWOMAN program,2 helps women—especially working, low-income, underserved and uninsured women—understand and reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke. Program providers administer heart disease and stroke risk factor screenings and promote heart-healthy lifestyles. A third program, the highly publicized joint CDC–CMS Million Hearts® initiative,3 is working to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes within five years by identifying risk factors and providing basic heart-healthy lifestyle change recommendations.

In support of this Million Hearts® initiative, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) offers its grantees access to the complete online Lifestyle Medicine Core Competencies Program. This evidence-based 30 hour/CME curriculum provides physicians with knowledge and skills covering the fundamentals of lifestyle medicine, including: nutrition, physical activity and weight management, stress reduction, sleep health, tobacco cessation, alcohol reduction, emotional wellness, and patient coaching behavior. Recently introduced electives enable anyone to enroll in the content created for the WISEWOMAN cardiac program.


How You Can Help

During Heart Month, CDC is specifically asking for your help to encourage heart disease prevention among adults of all ages by familiarizing yourself the Public Health Best Practices Guide and by building awareness for and sharing with your patients the #heartmonth challenges, CDC’s feature articles, and the Heart Age calculator. See more details on the ACPM Heart Health page.

Million Hearts 2022: A Compelling Call to Action
February 20; Webcast

To learn more about heart health and the Million Hearts® initiative, join the CDC for its February 20 webcast Public Health Grand Rounds, “Million Hearts 2022: A Compelling Call to Action,” (1 p.m. ET). Join the session to share stories from the field and discuss how partners and professionals use Million Hearts® strategies and tools in their health systems, practices and communities.

  1. Evidence Summary: Control High Blood Pressure. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The 6|18 Initiative: Accelerating Evidence into Action. Updated December 8, 2015. Accessed February 2018. 
  2. WISEWOMAN (Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for WOMen Across the Nation). National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, CDC.
  3. Million Hearts®. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
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