May 29, 2012 -- The American College of Physicians (ACP), the second-largest physician group in the United States, has joined Million Hearts, a public-private sector initiative that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in five years. Million Hearts has two primary goals:
- Empowering Americans to make healthy choices such as preventing tobacco use and reducing sodium and trans fat consumption. This can reduce the number of people who need medical treatment such as blood pressure or cholesterol medications to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
- Improving care for people who do need treatment by encouraging a targeted focus on the "ABCS" -- Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation -- which address the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and can help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
"Internal medicine specialists are at the forefront of treating patients with multiple, chronic conditions that can lead to heart attack and stroke," said Steven Weinberger, MD, FACP, executive vice president and CEO, ACP. "Patient-centered, team-based care, which is a central tenet of ACP and Million Hearts, is vital to improving patient health, including reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke."
The ACP Foundation, which develops materials to help improve communication between patients and clinicians and give patients tools they need to effectively manage their health, offers the following resources related to heart attack and stroke prevention:
- HEALTH TiPS for High Cholesterol, Hypertension, Smoking, and After Your Heart Attack
- Caring for Your Heart: An Everyday Guide for You and Your Family
- Video HEALTH TiPS and patient education DVDs for How to Take Your Own Blood Pressure, Basic Facts About Atrial Fibrillation, Medications that Help Prevent Blood Clots, and Weight Loss Options for Treating Obesity
- HEALTH NoTES for Oils and Fats
- Initiative on Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke Prevention
People of all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities can have a heart attack or stroke, which are the first and fourth leading causes of death in the United States. However, certain groups -- African Americans, people between the ages of 40 and 60, and women -- are at higher risk.
You can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by exercising for 30 minutes several days per week; eating a healthy diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables; and avoiding foods high in sodium, saturated and trans fats, and cholesterol. Ask your doctor if aspirin will reduce your risk for a heart attack, how to lower your cholesterol levels if they're high, and for resources to help quit smoking. It is also important to follow your doctor's instructions for medications and treatment.
By empowering Americans to make healthy choices and improving care, Million Hearts strives to achieve the following specific goals:
- Indicator: Baseline, 2017 Goal
- Aspirin use for people at high risk: 47%, 65%
- Blood pressure control: 46%. 65%
- Effective treatment of high cholesterol (LDL-C): 33%, 65%
- Smoking prevalence: 19%, 17%
- Sodium intake (average): 3.5g/day, 20% reduction
- Artificial trans fat consumption (average): 1% of calories/day, 50% reduction
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if the above goals are met, 10 million more Americans with high blood pressure will have it under control, 20 million more Americans with high cholesterol will have it under control, and four million fewer Americans will smoke by 2017.
About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 132,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection, and treatment of illness in adults.