The Million Hearts™ Initiative Celebrates One-Year Anniversary
In September 2011, public and private organizations united in an unprecedented commitment to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017 through clinical and community interventions. Together, we created the Million Hearts™ initiative, which aims to:
- Achieve excellence in the "ABCS:" Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure (BP) control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation; and
Empower Americans to make healthy choices, such as not smoking and reducing sodium and trans fat in their diets.
In this first year, we have been delighted by the passion of thousands of supporters — individuals, medical professionals, public health agencies, health care systems and private companies — all of which have made specific commitments to achieving our goal.
Likewise, important publications have fueled the Million Hearts™ effort this year. In May, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended team-based care for BP control. The task force found that BP control improved when care was provided by a team of health professionals — a physician supported by a pharmacist, nurse, dietitian, social worker, or community health worker — rather than by a physician alone. This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a Vital Signs report, "Getting Blood Pressure under Control: Millions of Missed Opportunities." One in three adults (67 million) has high blood pressure and, among this group, only half (36 million) have their BP under control.
Working together to reduce hypertension, the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes, we can change the heart health of the nation. We must help 10 million more hypertensive Americans control their BP by 2017. It can be done, and, in fact, we've heard from private practitioners, community clinics, and large health care systems, such as the Veterans Affairs and Kaiser Permanente, that they've been able to help more than 80 percent of their patients control their blood pressure.
How can you — and your patients — be the best in BP control?
- Make control a priority. Measure yourself via PINNACLE or submit the ABCS-related Cardiovascular Prevention Measures Group in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Physician Quality Reporting System. Recognize and reward those in your practice or system who are leading the way.
- Use EHRs to identify patients who aren't being treated or are not yet under control.
- Enlist every member of your team. Pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician's assistants, clerical office staff, and others all play key roles in helping patients control BP.
- Ask your patients to self-monitor, and make sure they know their goal numbers. Use an elevated reading as a signal to acquire and assess the BP pattern over the next month, enabling prompt, sound, and safe treatment decisions.
- Make adherence as easy as possible for patients. Prescribe once-a-day regimens, combination pills and 90-day supplies when appropriate. Ask patients about difficulties taking medicines, and encourage them to use pillboxes, a simple and proven tool to improve adherence.
You're not in this alone. Resources and information about joining are available from Million Hearts™ and many of our partners, including the ACC.
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