The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has started an ambitious national effort called Million Hearts 2022.
The goal is to revive what had long been a steady downturn in the cardiovascular death rate fostered largely by a decline in smoking and better detection and treatment of elevated blood pressure and cholesterol.
With the cooperation of Americans and the support of the medical profession, insurance companies, government agencies, and communities throughout the country, the agency hopes to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by the year 2022.
After a decades-long drop, the cardiovascular death rate has all but stalled and, frighteningly, has even reversed in adults aged 35 to 64.
That is especially alarming because many in that age group take care of young children and aging parents.
Nearly half of all U.S. adults have some form of heart or blood vessel disease, although this statistic is largely attributable to recent guidelines that have expanded the definition for having high blood pressure.
But regardless, heart problems are common and also expensive to treat.
Nearly half of adults with heart disease say they can’t afford their medical bills.
Worse, about one in five report being unable to pay their medical bills at all, say researchers.
Achieving the Million Hearts goal does not require any breakthrough new drugs, surgeries, or discoveries. All it really requires is the will of people to follow a well-established prescription – become more physically active, avoid tobacco, and control blood pressure and cholesterol.
This report, and other episodes, are available at KWBU.org. Business of Health Care is a production of KWBU and Baylor Scott & White Health.