Author + information
- John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, President, American College of Cardiology∗ ()
- ↵∗Address correspondence to:
John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, American College of Cardiology, 2400 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20037
The global statistics surrounding cardiovascular disease speak for themselves. Not only is cardiovascular disease the number 1 cause of death globally, but this trend is also expected to continue well into the future. According to the World Health Organization, the number of deaths from cardiovascular diseases, mainly from heart disease and stroke, is expected to reach 23.3 million by 2030 (1).
The month of February provides a unique opportunity to shine a spotlight on these statistics—and, more importantly, to offer solutions to reverse the negative cardiovascular trends—as part of National Heart Month. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) is getting into the action by working with other societies, federal agencies, international health groups, and patient organizations at a number of different levels to highlight the importance of prevention and the need for policies and programs at the state, national, and global levels that focus on population health.
As part of its new strategic plan, the College has made improving population health an organizational priority. Specifically, this means a renewed emphasis on developing key partnerships with other national and international organizations, supporting members in their expanded accountability to improve the health of populations, and providing cardiovascular team-facilitated patient education.
On the partnership front, the ACC continues to work with the NCD Alliance (of which it is a member), ACC International Chapters, and other stakeholders to help governments develop plans for the global target of reducing premature noncommunicable disease (NCD) mortality by 25% by 2025 (2). This is not an easy task and will require accountability by governments, as well as an approach that is inclusive of nongovernment organizations, local communities, and industry as appropriate. Although these efforts will continue well beyond February, Heart Month provides an important opportunity to emphasize the need for sharing of best practices, aligning measurements, advancing implementation strategies, and providing leadership in order to achieve the “25 by 25” target.
Back in the United States, the College is working at both the state and national levels on programs and initiatives to reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes. The ACC continues to work with efforts such as Million Hearts—a public/private initiative to reduce 1 million deaths from heart attacks and stroke by 2015 through a focus on aspirin use, smoking cessation, and management of high blood pressure and cholesterol. At the legislative level, many of the ACC's state chapters are working with state medical societies and others to pass comprehensive tobacco control policies and other legislation focused on the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The College also continues to fight for policies at both the state and national level that improve patient access to cost-effective, evidence-based cardiovascular care.
The College is also busy developing and implementing tools for members to help them improve population health on the front lines. New prevention guidelines that focused on obesity, blood cholesterol, risk management, and healthy living were released in November 2013 and are among the most recent efforts, and plans to update these guidelines and develop tools and patient-education materials for use at the point of care are already underway. In fact, the College and the American Heart Association just released a new mobile application to help calculate cardiovascular risk. The College also recently launched its new Quality Improvement for Institutions program that combines the benefits of the majority of registries under the National Cardiovascular Data Registry umbrella with hospital-based quality programs like Hospital to Home, the Door to Balloon Alliance, and Surviving MI. As we head into Heart Month, these programs and resources are a reminder of the ACC's commitment to supporting cardiovascular professionals and providing a home for the entire cardiovascular team.
The true benefit of Heart Month is the opportunity to reach the broader public with the importance of making lifestyle choices that affect major cardiovascular risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. This is where the ACC's CardioSmart patient-focused initiative comes in. Throughout this month, the College will be leveraging its relationships with consumer companies and hundreds of cardiovascular practices across the United States to educate patients and the public at large through a number of mediums ranging from television programming in practice waiting rooms, to mobile applications and texting services designed to help with medication adherence or smoking cessation, and to resources to track blood pressure or physical activity. CardioSmart is the ACC's answer to helping cardiovascular professionals reach patients and their families with the information necessary to make informed decisions about their heart health.
Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” (3). Each February we take a very important step in raising understanding about cardiovascular disease and the importance of prevention. These steps then build upon each other throughout the year in the form of new partnerships, new initiatives, new tools, and new science that continue to transform cardiovascular care around the world and save lives. The ACC is proud to play a pivotal role in this process not just during Heart Month, but all year long. Let us be the global advocates, speaking with one voice, calling for the prevention, treatment, and care of cardiovascular disease to improve the health of all of our populations.
- American College of Cardiology Foundation
- ↵World Health Organization. Cardiovascular diseases fact sheet. Updated March 2013. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/en/. Accessed December 20, 2013.
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- ↵Brainy Quote. Lao Tzu quotes. Available at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/l/lao_tzu_2.html. Accessed December 20, 2013.