Every year, Americans suffer more than
heart attacks and strokes.
Every day, 2,200 people die from cardiovascular disease—that’s nearly 800,000 Americans each year, or 1 in every 3 deaths.
Together, heart disease and stroke are among the most widespread and costly health problems facing the nation today, accounting for more than
in health care expenditures and lost productivity annually—and these costs are rising. On a personal level, families who experience heart disease or stroke not only have to deal with medical bills but also lost wages and the real potential of a decreased standard of living.
We're all at risk for heart disease and stroke. People of all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities are affected.
However, certain groups —including
African Americans and older individuals are at
Nearly 44% of African American men
and 48% of African American women
have some form of cardiovascular disease that includes heart disease and stroke.
African American adults are much more likely to suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension), and heart attack and stroke deaths than white adults.
Individuals living below the federal poverty level are more likely to have high blood pressure compared with those living at the highest level of income.
Follow the ABCS
You can reduce your risk and improve your heart health by following the
- A: Take aspirin as directed by your health care provider.
- B: Control your blood pressure.
- C: Manage your cholesterol.
- S: Don´t smoke.
Million Hearts™ initiative is a national public-private partnership that aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017 by using clinical and community prevention to improve the ABCS.
What do I need to know about high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke in the United States.
About 2 out of every 5 African American adults have high blood pressure, and less than half of them have it under control
How is blood pressure measured?
Two numbers (e.g., 140/90) help determine blood pressure.
The first number measures systolic pressure, which is the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart beats.
The second number measures diastolic pressure, which is the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart rests between beats.
If the first number is 140 or higher, or the second number is 90 or higher then you have high blood pressure and should talk to your health care provider.
When and how should I check my blood pressure readings?
Check your blood pressure readings on a regular basis, even if you feel fine.
Generally, people with high blood pressure have no symptoms.
You can check your blood pressure readings at home, at a pharmacy, and at a doctor’s office.
How can I control my blood pressure?
Make control your goal!
Work with your health care provider to make a plan for controlling your blood pressure.
Be sure to follow these guidelines:
- Eat a healthy diet.
Choose foods low in sodium (salt).
Most Americans consume more sodium than recommended.
Everyone aged 2 years and older should consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day.
African Americans as well as adults aged 51 years and older and people with high blood pressure, diabetes,
or chronic kidney disease should consume only 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
- Get moving.
Staying physically active will help you control your weight and strengthen your heart.
Try walking for 10 minutes, 3 times a day, at least 5 days a week.
- Take your medications.
If you have high blood pressure, your health care provider may give you medicine to help control it.
It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions when taking the medication.
Tell your health care provider if the medicine makes you feel bad.
Your doctor can show you different ways to reduce side effects or recommend another medicine that may have fewer side effects.
Achieve your Health Goals
Your doctor is not the only health care provider that can help you follow the ABCS
Nurses, pharmacists, community health workers, health coaches, and other providers can work with you and your doctor to help you achieve your health goals.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions like these:
- What is my risk for heart disease?
Should I take an aspirin every day to reduce my risk?
- What is my blood pressure?
What does it mean for me, and what should I do about it?
- What are my cholesterol numbers?
What can I do to lower my bad cholesterol if it’s too high?
- What kinds of support are available to help me quit smoking?
The CDC recently published a Vital Signs article outlining the burden of heart disease and stroke and actions to prevent these illnesses by health care systems, providers, insurers, the federal government, health departments, community organizations, and individuals.
See the article for specific actions at:
CDC Vital Signs: Preventable Deaths from Heart Disease & Stroke
Improving care can save more lives,
For more information, visit the following CDC and DHHS Web sites:
CDC, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity
CDC Public Health Grand Rounds
Preventing 1 Million Heart Attacks & Strokes by 2017: The Million Hearts Initiative
HHS Million Hearts