CDC: More Americans Working to Control BP, Cholesterol

But rates for these and other heart-healthy habits still fall far short of goals, agency says

CDC: More Americans Working to Control BP, Cholesterol

FRIDAY, May 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the Million Hearts initiative, a program that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2016. A report looking at the early effects of the effort was published in the May 30 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The Million Hearts program assesses four risk factors for heart attack and stroke, called the ABCS -- aspirin, blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking. The program is designed to get people who need it to take aspirin daily, control their blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and quit smoking. To reach the goal of stopping one million heart attacks and strokes by 2016, 65 percent of patients need to stop smoking and take high blood pressure and high cholesterol medications, while decreasing their salt intake by 20 percent (to about 2,900 milligrams a day).

However, the first round of statistics on the program show that the goal has not been met yet. According to the report, there was no significant change in the use of aspirin to prevent a second heart attack or stroke since 2009/2010 -- it stayed steady at just under 54 percent of heart attack patients. There was some improvement in terms of blood pressure control, with medications prescribed for about 43 percent of patients in 2009/2010 and nearly 52 percent of patients in 2011/2012. Similar increases were seen with cholesterol medications, with 33 percent of patients getting prescriptions in 2009/2010 and just under 43 percent of patients getting prescriptions in 2011/2012.

There was only a small increase in the number of patients advised by their doctors to quit smoking, which rose from about 22 percent in 2009/2010 to 25 percent in 2011/2012, according to the report. The most current data also showed only a minimal decrease in salt intake overall, from 3,619 milligrams a day to 3,594 milligrams a day, the study authors noted.

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