More must be done to limit heart attacks, strokes: report

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Washington – A Department of Health and Human Services program intended to help reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes among people in the United States has shown some positive signs, but more work is needed, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC statistics show that every year, about 1.5 million Americans suffer a heart attack or stroke, resulting in about 30 deaths per hour.

Three years ago, HHS launched the Million Hearts initiative in an effort to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by the end of 2016.

An early analysis of the Million Hearts campaign shows that Americans are making strides in lowering their blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but that the program’s overall goals may not be met, researchers said. The report analyzed four measures: aspirin use, blood pressure, cholesterol and smoking assessment.

The prevalence of aspirin use to prevent heart attacks has not changed significantly, according to the researchers, and smoking cessation and treatment also has not shown a major change. Additionally, researchers noted that sodium intake remains a problem. The program aimed to achieve a 20 percent decrease in sodium intake, but researchers found less than a 1 percent decrease from 2005-06 to 2009-10.