Heart attack and stroke prevention efforts need a boost says CDC

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the efforts to prevent heart attacks and strokes in the United States have reached a plateau and are not making any further progress.

These cases of heart attacks, strokes and heart failures are preventable and yet there have been 2.2 million hospitalizations and 415,000 deaths in 2016 says the report.

More than 1,000 Americans died each day in 2016 from heart attack, stroke, and other events Million Hearts® is trying to prevent.

According to the latest report, most of these events related to heart disease and cardiovascular disease are all occurring among patients aged between 35 and 64 years. This means that the middle-aged population is largely at risk explain the experts. This age group has seen 775,000 hospitalizations and 75,000 deaths in 2016, outlines the report.

CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat, speaking at a press meet this week said, “Middle age can be a ticking time bomb for heart disease.” She explained that most of the negative risk factors that raise risk of heart disease events are seen around this age. High blood pressure, raised cholesterol, lack of physical activity, sedentary life, unhealthy diets, smoking, alcohol consumption etc. Are all more prevalent during this age say the experts.

Some of the highlights of the latest report include the facts that 40 million American adults have uncontrolled blood pressure and 39 million American adults have uncontrolled levels of cholesterol. Smoking is prevalent among 54 million American adults and 71 million adults lead a sedentary life with little physical activity. Over 9 million adults do not take routine aspirin prescribed to them to prevent heart attacks and strokes, authors of the report write.

Getting to One Million

The CDC and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has started an initiative called the Million Hearts that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2022. This requires a reduction of the present number of cardiovascular events by 6 percent in each state say the experts. Janet Wright, a cardiologist and executive director of Million Hearts, in a statement said, “The solution for this national crisis does not depend on a brilliant new discovery or a breakthrough in science. The solution already lies deep within every person, community, and health care setting across America. Small changes – the right changes, sustained over time – can produce huge improvements in cardiovascular health.”

This new report urges local and state governments as well as various community organizations to encourage exercise among the people and provide smoke-free zones to prevent passive smoking and discourage smoking. Promotion of healthy food options, routine blood pressure and cholesterol monitoring for the public are other measures that need to be adopted. They have called for more awareness programmes for the general public to promote heart health. The “ABCS” of heart health to be widely circulated include;

  • Aspirin use when prescribed,
  • Blood pressure control and
  • Cholesterol control and
  • Smoking cessation.

According to Wright, people need to sit up and take notice, “Preventing heart disease and stroke is everyone's business. We each have a role to play,” she said.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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