Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for 1 in 4 deaths in the country. Million Hearts is a national initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2011 to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017 by empowering people to make healthy choices and improving access to effective care. The initiative is led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
One of the approaches the Million Hearts program is taking what is known as the “ABCS.” This stands for aspirin for those at risk, blood pressure control, cholesterol management, and smoking cessation. These simple but effective techniques help to make heart disease prevention and treatment available to those who need it. The other goal of Million Hearts is to empower people to make heart-healthy choices, such as preventing tobacco use and reducing sodium and trans fat consumption. Resources are also available for providers and health plans.
The Veterans Health Administration one arm of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, provides support for the Million Hearts campaign by communicating the program goals to providers and patients; providing treatment around ABCS; promoting research in the ABCS goals; and partnering with community efforts to promote heart health.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also provides information and resources for improved outreach surrounding the issue of heart health. Up to 83% of people with serious mental illness are overweight or obese, and 44% of U.S. tobacco use comprises individuals with mental health or substance abuse disorders. SAMHSA’s work to promote wellness includes resources and provision of comprehensive and integrated health care to people with mental health and substance abuse disorders.
In addition, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) supports the Million Hearts campaign and contributes tools to help reach the goal. For example, the HealthHeartClub.com program helps pharmacists educate patients to change their diets, exercise more, and use the right medications to lower heart disease risk. Pharmacists work with primary care providers and interact with patients weekly to provide access to classes and tools to help support their goals. AHRQ has an Effective Health Care Program that creates booklets to educate patients on high blood pressure and high cholesterol, by identifying treatment options and reviewing their risks and benefits.
More information regarding the Million Hearts campaign can be found at the links below: