Be One in a Million Do Your Part to Protect Your Heart

By James V. Talano, MD. MM, FACC, Director Southwest Institute for Cardiovascular Fitness & Treatment –

Be One in a Million Do Your Part to Protect Your HeartIt is unfortunate, but not surprising, that if you are reading this you know someone who has had heart disease or stroke, maybe even yourself. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, one in every three American deaths is related to heart disease or stroke. To further quantify this number for you, this equates to more than 2,200 deaths per day.

The annual update, recently released by the American Heart Association provided the following statistics on heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular conditions:

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) takes the lives of more than 2,150 Americans each day, an average of 1 death every 40 seconds.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of disability in the U.S.
  • Smoking – 18% of students grades 9-12 report being current smokers. Among adults, 21% of men and 17% of women are smokers.
  • Physical Activity – Only 21% of adults meet the federal guidelines for physical activity. Among 9 through 12 graders, only 28% meet the recommendations.
  • Healthy Diet – Less than 1% of U.S. adults meet the definition for “Ideal Healthy Diet”; essentially no children meet the goal. Of the 5 components of a healthy diet, reducing sodium and increasing whole grains are the biggest challenges.
  • Body Mass Index – The estimated prevalence of overweight and obesity in U.S. adults is 155 million, which represents 68% of this group. Among children, 32% are over-weight and obese (24 million children) and 17% are obese (13 million children).
  • Cholesterol – An estimated 32 million adults have total serum cholesterol levels ≥240 mg/dL, with a prevalence of 14%.
  • Hypertension – An estimated 78 million U.S. adults are hypertensive. About 82% are aware of their condition and 75% are using antihypertensive medication, but only 53% of those have their condition controlled.
  • Diabetes – An estimated 20 million adults have physician-diagnosed diabetes. An additional 8 million adults have undiagnosed diabetes and about 87 million adults have prediabetes.

When considering the above statistics, it is no surprise that cardiovascular disease is very expensive—in 2010 heart disease and stroke hospitalizations cost Americans more than $444 billion in health care expenses and lost productivity. It is not all dark and grim though, there has been some light shed at the end of the tunnel. The CDC and other sectors of the US government recently launched Million Hearts™, an initiative aimed at preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next few years. The main objective of the program is to educate and empower everyone to make heart-healthy choices.

The Million Hearts™ Initiative seeks to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by the end of 2016 by:

  • Empowering Americans to make healthy choices such as avoiding tobacco use and reducing the amount of sodium and trans fat they eat. These changes will reduce the number of people who need medical treatment for high blood pressure or cholesterol—and ultimately prevent heart attacks and strokes.
  • Improving care for people who do need treatment by encouraging a focus on the “ABCS”—Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation—four steps to address the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Backed by multiple federal agencies and key private organizations, including the American Heart Association, the American Pharmacists’ Association, the YMCA, Walgreens, and UnitedHealthCare, Million Hearts™ is a great step in decreasing the number of lives lost.

Unfortunately, heart disease and stroke affects all of our lives, which is why it is important that we all play an active role in decreasing our own risks. Prevention starts with you. Protect yourself and your loved ones from heart disease and stroke by understanding the risks and making heart-healthy choices. As the old saying goes, be the change you want to see in the world. Let’s all do out part in educating others about preventing heart disease!

Visit for more information about the Million Hearts™ initiative.

What Million Hearts™ Means to You
Heart disease and stroke affects all of our lives, but we can all play a role in ending it. Prevention starts with everyone. Protect yourself and your loved ones from heart disease and stroke by understanding the risks and taking these steps.

  • Drive the initiative by challenging your family and friends to take the Million Hearts™ pledge at
  • Get up and get active by being physically active for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

Know your ABCS:

  • Ask your doctor if you should take an Aspirin every day.
  • Find out if you have high Blood pressure or Cholesterol, and if you do, get effective treatment.
  • If you Smoke, get help to quit.
  • Make your calories count by eating a heart-healthy diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in sodium and trans fat.
  • Take control of your heart health by following your doctor’s prescription instructions.

Together, we can all be one in a million this Heart Month and every month.

SWICFT Institute of Southwest Florida

625 9th Street North, Suite 201
Naples, FL 34102
ph: 239.261.2000
fax: 239.261.2266


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