Public-Private Partnership Aims to Prevent 1 Million Heart Attacks and Strokes in 5 Years

Sep 13, 2011, 4:35 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

A heart monitor screen with a question mark.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), announced the launch of Million Hearts, a public-private collaboration that aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years.

"Too many people who need preventive care don’t get it," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who noted that heart attacks and strokes cost our nation $444 billion each year ($1.2 billion a day) in healthcare costs and lost productivity. "We’re paying much too high a price, and together we can and will do better," said Sebelius.

Sebelius said also this campaign represents a change in how the government and private sector will work to save lives from heart disease.

CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said that the Million Hearts initiative won’t cost a lot because it harnesses what we know is effective – the "ABCS": aspirin for people at risk, blood pressure control, cholesterol management and smoking cessation. He also said the CDC will be working to prevent heart attacks and strokes in the community through community education, and working with industry to reduce sodium and artificial trans-fat content in foods. This step will "put control back into the consumers' hands on how much salt goes into their food."

Dr. Don Berwick, CMS Administrator, said CMS will be contributing to make sure evidence-based efforts like the ABCS are incorporated throughout care for Medicare and Medicaid recipients through incentive programs, quality measurement reporting systems, and adoption of meaningful use measures in health information technology.

Private partners are wide-ranging, but the American Heart Association, the Y and Walgreens were all featured in this morning's live event to announce their efforts to support heart health:

  • 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.
  • The Y is aiming to expand coverage of the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program as well as the successful National Diabetes Prevention Program and CDC’s Healthy Communities Program to better address risks for diabetes, heart attacks, and stroke. The Y is also working to bring together leaders to make changes at the community level to "make the healthy choice the easy choice," such as bringing farmer's markets to food deserts and creating smoke-free public spaces.
  • Walgreens will engage its more than 26,000 health care 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 nurse practitioner.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.