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AAFP Voices Support for HHS' Million Hearts Initiative
Academy Members Can Pledge to 'Be One in a Million'
By News Staff
Support for Initiative's Goals
In her letter, Heim named a number of AAFP programs that directly support the Million Hearts initiative:
- The AAFP has pledged its support for the Million Hearts initiative HHS has launched to reduce the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, or CVD, in the United States.
- Primary risk factors for CVD are hypertension, high cholesterol levels and smoking.
- Million Hearts' goals are to provide greater access to care, increase public awareness of CVD and its risk factors, and promote healthy lifestyles.
- Americans in Motion-Healthy Interventions (AIM-HI);
- Ask and Act, the AAFP's tobacco cessation program;
- the AAFP Tobacco Cessation Office Champions Project;
- Healthy Communities Collaborative;
- Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Learning Community in DARTNet;
- FamilyDoctor.org; and
- Tar Wars, the Academy's tobacco-free education program.
Communities do, in fact, play a large role in the initiative. Million Hearts encourages community leaders to develop policies and programs that enhance patients' access to care, improve medication adherence, reduce smoking and second-hand smoke exposure, and promote the consumption of foods low in sodium and artificial trans fats.
Scope of the Problem
Those figures represent a slight decrease compared with 1999-2000 data, which the CDC attributes to improved treatment and control of hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. In addition, the introduction of smoke-free environments, smoking intervention programs and higher cigarette excise taxes has contributed to the decline.
According to an HHS news release (4-page PDF; About PDFs), the primary objectives of Million Hearts are twofold:
- empower Americans to make healthy lifestyle choices, with the goal of reducing the number of people who need medical treatment to prevent heart attack and stroke; and
- improve care for patients who do require treatment by stepping up the focus on the "ABCS" -- Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation.
"Be One in a Million Hearts"
For individual family physicians, supporting the initiative largely means continuing to do what FPs do every day: Help patients avoid heart attack and stroke by addressing the three prime CVD risk factors.
Academy members who wish to voice their support for the initiative can pledge to "Be One in a Million Hearts," which asks health care professionals to
- treat patients' high blood pressure and cholesterol;
- educate patients about the most effective ways to control their risk factors for heart disease and stroke;
- promote heart-healthy habits to patients, such as regular exercise and a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables;
- ask patients about their smoking status and provide cessation advice and medication when appropriate;
- help patients follow treatment instructions and improve medication adherence; and
- use health information technology, such as electronic health records and decision-support tools, to improve the delivery of care and control of the ABCS.