HHS launches massive campaign to curtail heart attacks, strokes

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with several association and industry partners, has launched Million Hearts, an initiative that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. over the next five years. Currently, cardiovascular disease (CVD) costs $444 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity for people living in the U.S.

The Million Hearts initiative is focused on two goals:

  • Empowering Americans to make healthy choices, such as preventing tobacco use and reducing sodium and transfat consumption.
  • Improving care for people who do need treatment by encouraging a targeted focus on ABCS care, which stands for: Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation.

“Heart disease causes one of every three American deaths and constitutes 17 percent of overall national health spending,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “By enlisting partners from across the health sector, Million Hearts will create a national focus on combating heart disease.”

Specific goals are:



2017 goal

Aspirin use for people at high risk



Blood pressure control



Effective treatment of high cholesterol (LDL-C)



Smoking prevalence



Sodium intake (average)


20% reduction

Artificial transfat consumption (average)

1% of calories/day

50% reduction

“If we succeed in achieving our Million Hearts goals, 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,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH.

“The treatment of heart disease and stroke account for about $1 of every $6 spent on U.S. healthcare,” said Donald Berwick, MD, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The private sector initiatives include:

  • The American Heart Association will help monitor progress of the initiative’s goals and provide consumers with access to their heart health management tools, including Heart 360, My Life Check and the Heart Attack Risk Calculator.
  • Walgreens will engage its more than 26,000 healthcare providers to support the Million Hearts initiative’s prevention goal by providing blood pressure testing at no charge in consultation with a Walgreens' pharmacist or Take Care Clinic Nurse Practitioner.
  • The Y will aim to expand coverage of the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program as well as the National Diabetes Prevention Program and CDC’s Healthy Communities Program to better address risks for diabetes, heart attacks and stroke.
  • America’s Health Insurance Plans and its members will amplify their ongoing commitment to reduce CVD, which includes community-based collaborations to reduce the burden of obesity and other risk factors for heart disease (UnitedHealthcare), beneficiary fitness programs (WellPoint), initiatives to reduce ethnic and racial disparities in cardiovascular health (Aetna) and programs to better manage chronic disease (Cigna).
  • The American Pharmacists’ Association and the American Pharmacists’ Association Foundation will encourage their more than 62,000 members to engage in the Million Hearts Campaign by raising awareness with their patients and their communities.
  • The National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations and the Alliance for Patient Medication Safety will encourage state pharmacy associations and their members to engage in the Million Hearts campaign throughout the year with activities planned for American Pharmacists Month in October and beyond.
  • The National Community Pharmacists Association will encourage its 23,000 independent community pharmacies to become involved in the initiative and to raise awareness through their publications and social media outlets.

Also, associations like the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association have already committed their constituencies to this work, according to HHS.

In addition, HHS will target more than $200 million in new and refocused investments to achieve the goals of Million Hearts:

  • Today, CDC is announcing $40 million for chronic disease prevention programs to health departments across the U.S.
  • The FDA and the Food Safety and Inspection Service are launching efforts to identify opportunities to reduce sodium