U.S. to prevent 1 million heart attacks

Sept. 13, 2011 at 9:07 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. government officials announced an initiative Tuesday to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes during the next five years.

"Heart disease causes one of every three American deaths and constitutes 17 percent of overall national health spending," Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said in announcing the Million Hearts initiative. "By enlisting partners from across the health sector, Million Hearts will create a national focus on combating heart disease."

Cardiovascular disease costs $444 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity in Americans.

Building on work currently under way via the Affordable Care Act, Million Hearts will help improve Americans' health, increase productivity and cut healthcare spending by empowering Americans to make healthy choices such as preventing tobacco use, reducing sodium and trans fat consumption, Sebelius said.

For those already at risk for heart attacks and strokes, treatment is targeted on the "ABCS" -- Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation -- the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, Sebelius said.

"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 4 million fewer Americans will smoke by 2017," Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said.

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