Bishop Lecture: Wright to Discuss Results, Lessons Learned and What’s Next From Million Hearts

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Janet S. Wright, MD, FACC, executive director of Million Hearts, a national initiative co-led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), with the goal of preventing one million myocardial infarctions and strokes by 2017, will give today’s 48th Annual Louis F. Bishop Lecture. ACC.17 Daily talked with Wright about her lecture, as well as her time at Million Hearts and what’s next for the initiative.

What do you hope attendees will take away from your lecture?

Cardiovascular care professionals around the world get up every morning – and many do so during the night as well – to take care of people with and at risk for cardiovascular disease. Their efforts have contributed mightily to the results Million Hearts has tracked over the last five years. In honor of Dr. Bishop and his legacy, attendees will hear whether and how much progress has been made and hear from experts about how we can work together to continue to accelerate progress now and in the future.

What have been some of the biggest Million Hearts accomplishments to date?

The accomplishments really belong to our 120+ partners, like the ACC, the American Heart Association, the American Pharmacists Association, the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, as well as more than 20 federal agencies and offices. As a result of their collective efforts, millions of patients are now cared for by health systems and practices that have been recognized and rewarded for performance on key cardiovascular disease measures. Additionally, more than seven million smokers have quit and standardized treatment protocols for hypertension are being implemented across entire systems of care, reaching well over a million people. The first ever pay-for-prevention model is also underway in 48 states to recognize and manage those at high risk for cardiovascular disease. These examples and more have set the foundation for improved outcomes, fewer heart attacks and strokes, and decreased rates of kidney and heart failure.

What have been some of the biggest lessons learned?

Implementing what works and doing it at such a large scale is a challenge. Success definitely takes a team with focus and commitment from the top. Even with these assets, however, the wheels of progress turn very slowly. Engaging networks – formal and informal, community-based, health system-based, and best of all, hybrids of these – to focus on a few key strategies can make all the difference in the rate at which our nation’s cardiovascular health and care improve.

How important is the entire care team in achieving Million Hearts’ goals?

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Team care is essential not only to achieving the aim of a million fewer cardiovascular events in five years but also to good health. We have been particularly committed to disseminating the evidence for pharmacists, community health workers and cardiac rehabilitation teams, among others. While practices and health systems excel in prevention and treatment, teams that bridge the traditional silos of public health and health care are also important for building strong communities that support healthy behaviors. The collaboration of data teams from the CDC and CMS has also been extraordinarily valuable over the last five years of Million Hearts. Working together, they have been able to shed light on opportunities to improve medication adherence to anti-hypertensives and to improve referral and participation in cardiac rehabilitation.

What are your goals for Million Hearts moving forward?

In order to tip the current flattening of cardiovascular disease mortality rates downward again, we need all-hands-on-deck. Based on modeling, expert interviews, partner feedback and recent scientific literature, we have designed a new framework for the next five years, Million Hearts 2022. By adding a new focus on physical activity, cardiac rehabilitation and patient engagement, along with very powerful public health and health care actions related to reducing sodium and tobacco and continued improvement in the “ABCS” (Aspirin for those at risk for heart attack and stroke; Blood pressure control; Cholesterol management; and Smoking cessation), we are providing a roadmap to partners for more progress, faster.


The 48th Annual Louis F. Bishop Lecture will take place Friday, March 17, from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. in Ballroom C.

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