The Evolution of American Heart Month
The ACC this month joins many organizations across the country in celebrating the 53rd anniversary of American Heart Month. American Heart Month was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson under Presidential Proclamation 3566 in December 1963, 10 days after Congress issued a joint resolution requesting the president to issue an annual proclamation.
In his remarks announcing February 1964 as the first American Heart Month, President Johnson urged “the people of the United States to give heed to the nationwide problem of the heart and blood-vessel diseases, and to support the programs required to bring about its solution.” Johnson’s action marked a pivotal point in the nation’s approach to addressing cardiovascular disease.
Not long after the official launch of American Heart Month, the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health was published on Jan. 11, 1964. This landmark publication, released by Surgeon General Luther Terry, MD, was the first federal government report to link smoking and negative health impacts, including lung cancer and heart disease.
"American Heart Month provides an important opportunity to emphasize the sharing of best practices, aligning measurements, advancing implementation strategies, and providing leadership to focus on the burden of cardiovascular disease.”
We’ve come a long way since 1964. Today, American Heart Month brings together a wide array of public, private and governmental organizations to shed light on how far we’ve come and the work that needs to continue. While annual deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke have declined since the first Surgeon General’s report, heart disease continues to be a public health burden and a leading cause of death for both men and women. Cardiovascular disease accounts for one of every four deaths in the United States every year and many of these are preventable.
Recognizing his first American Heart Month as president, Donald J. Trump issued a proclamation saying:
“…During American Heart Month, we remember those who have lost their lives to heart disease and resolve to improve its prevention, detection and treatment. It is a time for all of us to reaffirm our commitment to improving cardiovascular health for ourselves, our families, and our communities … Over the past several decades, we have learned much about factors that contribute to heart disease, how to monitor those triggers, and ways to treat them. We know that individuals can live longer and better lives by refraining from tobacco use, maintaining an optimal blood pressure and a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. Innovative companies continue to offer new tools and online systems, giving people more access than ever to information they can use to make informed, health-conscious choices … Scientific research and evidence-based interventions to prevent or treat heart attacks and strokes have played an important part in making these strides. Developments in technology and the discovery of early markers of heart disease have allowed us to diagnose and treat heart disease sooner than ever before. American innovators continue to develop treatments for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and our health care providers continue to promote best strategies and educate Americans to stay heart healthy…”
American Heart Month provides an important opportunity to emphasize the sharing of best practices, aligning measurements, advancing implementation strategies, and providing leadership to focus on the burden of cardiovascular disease. The ACC works at both the state and national levels on programs and initiatives to reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke. We continue to focus on smoking cessation, management of high blood pressure and cholesterol as part of our mission to transform cardiovascular disease and improve heart health.
The College also promotes awareness about heart disease all year long through our patient education portal CardioSmart.org and strives to help individuals treat and manage cardiovascular risk. The ACC is also working with other societies, federal agencies, international health groups and patient organizations at a number of different levels to highlight the importance of cardiovascular disease prevention and the need for policies and programs at the state, national and global levels that focus on cardiovascular risk reduction. ACC continues to work with the NCD Alliance, ACC International Chapters, and other stakeholders to help governments develop plans for the global target of reducing premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases (NCD) by 25 percent by 2025.
Follow @ACCinTouch on Twitter for Heart Month tips throughout the month of February.
John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, is a past president of the ACC.
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