U.S. Plan Announced to Cut Heart Attacks

Heart attacks and strokes cost hundreds of billions of dollars each year

(RxWiki News) Working vigorously to reduce cardiovascular deaths, U.S. health officials have announced a national program that partners with private insurance companies to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes over five years.

The program, Million Hearts, focuses on prevention through controlling cholesterol and blood pressure, encouraging smoking and tobacco prevention and increasing the use of low-dose aspirin to reduce the number of blood clots.

"Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol to reduce your heart disease risk."

U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that heart disease causes about a third of all American deaths and represents about 17 percent of overall national health spending. She said the program will create a national focus on heart disease by signing on partners from across the health sector.

Currently, heart disease costs about $444 billion annually in medical costs and lost productivity in the United States. Each year, about 2 million Americans have a heart attack or stroke. About 40 percent die as a result.

The program, which includes $200 million in government funds to kick off Million Hearts, is designed to aid Americans in making healthy choices by preventing tobacco use and reducing sodium and trans fat consumption. This can help lower the number who need blood pressure or cholesterol drugs to prevent heart attacks or strokes.

A secondary goal of the program is to improve medical care for those who need treatment through ABCS, which stands for Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation. Such a focus address the major risk factors for heart disease.

Officials aim to increase aspirin use from 47 percent to 65 percent by 2017. During that same period they plan to improve blood pressure control from 46 percent to 65 percent and high cholesterol treatment from 33 percent to 65 percent, while reducing the percentage of smokers from 19 percent to 17 percent.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said that if the program is successful, an additional 10 million will have their high blood pressure under control while another 20 million will be able to manage their hypertension. That would result in 4 million fewer strokes in Americans by 2017.

Partner initiatives includes free blood pressure checks at Walgreens, an expanded diabetes program at the YMCA and increased awareness from national pharmacists' associations. Private insurance companies also plan to offer members additional heart health services.

Review Date: 
September 13, 2011