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It’s Never Too Late To Send The Gift Of Caring

December 26, 2011

When it comes to making new year’s resolutions, keep in mind that it’s not only about losing weight. Good health, and good heart health in particular, is multi-faceted. And the problem is we don’t take good enough care of ourselves, especially when we’re caregivers. In a twist on e-cards, the national “Million Hearts” initiative is asking people to consider taking care of their own health as a gift to a loved one.
“Family members worry about loved ones who are at risk for heart disease or stroke,” said Janet Wright, MD, executive director of Million Hearts. “When someone pledges to learn how to improve their health, we show respect for ourselves and the lives we share with others. Nothing shows our love like actions that allow us to enjoy the seasons together for years to come.”

Although many health-related e-cards let people suggest that others do something, these cards let people show “you get it—your health matters.” The digital post card is available free on the Internet as well as Facebook and Twitter at http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/gift.shtml

Why This Matters

Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, is responsible for 1 of every 3 deaths in the United States. Americans suffer more than 2 million heart attacks and strokes each year, and every day, 2,200 people die from cardiovascular disease. The goal of Million Hearts is to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes across the United States over five years. One way to do that is for people to learn and improve their ABCS of health: Aspirin, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation.

Why are the numbers so high? Consider these numbers that show Americans aren’t taking care of themselves as they should:
• Less than half of those at the highest risk of cardiovascular disease take daily aspirin.
• Less than half of those hypertension have it adequately controlled.
• Only a third with high cholesterol have adequate treatment.
• Less than a quarter of smokers get help to quit.

Million Hearts’ goal is to reduce the number of people who need treatment through prevention and improved management of the ABCS. “Many people are disabled because of heart disease and stroke, with more than 3 million people across the country reporting serious illness and decreased quality of life,” Wright explained. “Most major risk factors, including blood pressure, are controllable. Greater attention and focus on blood pressure control by patients and their care teams and families will dramatically reduce deaths and disability from heart attack and stroke.”

Million Hearts is a public-private initiative that involves multiple federal agencies and key private organizations. Million Hearts is securing commitments and participation from many more partners in health care, public health, industry and government. Million Hearts was launched this fall by the Department of Health and Human Services to help Americans live longer, more productive lives. To learn more about Million Hearts and to pledge your support, visit http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/index.shtml