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Health Briefs

Feds aim to cut heart disease in half by 2017

Feds aim to cut heart disease in half by 2017

Each year, Americans suffer two million heart attacks and strokes. Every day, 2,200 people die from cardiovascular disease. But a few lifestyle changes and following these "ABCs" – Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure control, and Cholesterol management and smoking cessation – could cut the rate of heart attacks and strokes by half.

So says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It's all part of the department's "Million Hearts" initiative aimed at preventing one million heart attacks by 2016.

"Heart disease causes a third of American deaths and constitutes 17 percent of overall national health spending," and $444 billion in medical costs and lost productivity annually, says HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The public-private initiative focuses on raising public awareness about factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease and lead to heart disease and stroke, the first and fourth leading causes of death in the U.S. A key goal is to prevent cardiovascular disease in the first place by getting smokers to quit and convincing food companies to use less salt and trans fat.

For those who already have cardiovascular disease, the initiative aims to more effectively manage it by employing the "ABCs." You can go to millionhearts.hhs.gov and sign a pledge to:

  • Learn and understand your risk
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes several days a week
  • Know the "ABCs"
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in saturated and trans fat and sodium
  • Follow your doctor's recommendations for medications and treatment.