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To Get Americans Healthier, U.S. Targets the Heart
Date:4/22/2011

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health officials and the American Heart Association have put forth an ambitious set of goals for reducing deaths from heart attack, stroke and coronary heart disease.

The goals go further than just setting targets for limiting death and illness, however. They place even greater emphasis on prevention, calling for behavioral change that could benefit overall public health, if successful.

"The goal is to shift the population to a healthier lifestyle," said Dr. Ralph L. Sacco, president of the American Heart Association and chairman of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "It's a much more prevention-oriented goal than we have had in the past."

The goals are part of the Healthy People 2020 goals, issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and aimed at improving the nation's health in the next decade. But with heart attack and stroke ranking first and third, respectively, on the list of leading causes of death in the United States, heart-oriented objectives form a substantial part of the initiative.

The program's heart-health goals start with typical targets, calling for a 20 percent reduction in deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke. But then Healthy People 2020 goes further, setting goals for specific prevention activities, including:

  • Increasing the number of people who have had their blood pressure and cholesterol tested recently.
  • Increasing the number of people who have taken preventive measures to reduce high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • Raising awareness of the early warning signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke.

The American Heart Association takes this approach even further with what the organization calls its 2020 Impact Goal: to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths
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