The nation's largest medical specialty group, the American College of Physicians (ACP), announced on May 29 that it has joined Million Hearts, a public-private sector initiative that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in five years.
The Department of Health & Human Services launched the Million Hearts program in September 2011. Million Hearts has two primary goals:
- Empowering Americans to make healthy choices such as preventing tobacco use and reducing sodium and trans fat consumption. This can reduce the number of people who need medical treatment such as blood pressure or cholesterol medications to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
- Improving care for people who need treatment by encouraging a targeted focus on the "ABCS" -- Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation -- which address the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and can help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
"Internal medicine specialists are at the forefront of treating patients with multiple, chronic conditions that can lead to heart attack and stroke," said Steven Weinberger, MD, FACP, executive vice president and CEO of ACP, in a prepared statement. "Patient-centered, team-based care, which is a central tenet of ACP and Million Hearts, is vital to improving patient health, including reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke."
The ACP Foundation, which develops materials to help improve communication between patients and clinicians and give patients tools they need to effectively manage their health, offers a variety of resources related to heart attack and stroke prevention:
Heart attack and stroke are the first and fourth leading causes of death in the United States. However, certain groups -- African Americans, people between the ages of 40 and 60, and women -- are at higher risk, ACP noted.
Patients can reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke by exercising for 30 minutes several days per week; eating a healthy diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables; and avoiding foods high in sodium, saturated and trans fats, and cholesterol.
By empowering Americans to make healthy choices and improving care, Million Hearts strives to achieve the following:
- increase aspirin use for people at high risk from a baseline of 47 percent to the 2017 goal of 65 percent;
- increase blood pressure control from a baseline of 46 percent to the 2017 goal of 65 percent;
- increase the effective treatment of high cholesterol (LDL-C) from a baseline of 33 percent to the 2017 goal of 65 percent;
- reduce smoking prevalence from a baseline of 19 percent to the 2017 goal of 17 percent;
- reduce average sodium intake from a baseline of 3.5g/day by 20 percent by 2017; and
- reduce average artificial trans fat consumption from a baseline of 1 percent of calories/day by 50 percent by 2017.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if the above goals are met, 10 million more Americans with high blood pressure will have it under control, 20 million more Americans with high cholesterol will have it under control, and four million fewer Americans will smoke by 2017.