RANCHO MIRAGE – Heart disease and stroke remain leading causes of death, disability, and healthcare spending in the U.S., and yet many are preventable.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the nation’s public health agency, estimates nearly 16 million heart attacks, strokes, and related heart-threatening events could happen by 2022.

Public health, healthcare professionals, communities, and health care systems can coordinate efforts to keep people healthy, optimize care, and improve outcomes within priority populations, like 35-64 year olds. Some progress is being made, but not nearly enough considering 80 percent of premature heart disease and strokes are preventable, according to the CDC.

That is where Eisenhower Health comes in.

Eisenhower Health’s Population Health Initiative is focusing its efforts to reduce heart attacks and strokes, the first and fifth leading causes of death in the United States. By participating in the CDC’s Million Hearts initiative, Eisenhower Health is helping to contribute to the prevention of one million cardiovascular events within the next five years, a goal set by the CDC.

Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill more than 800,000 Americans each year, accounting for one in every three deaths. It’s the nation’s No. 1 killer among both men and women and the leading cause of health disparities across the population. To address this issue, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) established Million Hearts®, a five-year initiative co-led by the CDC, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Launched in 2012, the national initiative—alongside 120 official partners and 20 federal agencies—successfully aligned national heart disease prevention efforts around a select set of evidence-based public health and clinical goals and strategies. As a result, significant progress was made toward the audacious aim to prevent a million cardiovascular (CV) events in five years.

Eisenhower’s Cardiovascular Physician Champion, Dr. David Choe, says, “Small changes sustained over time can improve our patients’ cardiovascular health.”

Focusing on implementing a variety of strategies to improve heart health, Eisenhower is working with their food service partners to improve the nutritional quality of foods served in their cafeteria and vending machines. For example, the hospital has increased offerings of lower sodium meals and snacks for patients, visitors and staff. On the recent changes made to increase fresh fruits, vegetables, and lower sodium food options,

Dr. Patricia Cummings, Epidemiologist and Population Health Initiative Co-Director, Eisenhower Health, said, “Within this landscape exist important opportunities to transform food environments through system-level and environmental changes.”

Cummings added in a prepared statement, “Studies indicate that nearly 80 percent of the sodium people consume comes from restaurant or processed foods, so that gives us very little choice in reducing our sodium intake, which may help reduce blood pressure. At Eisenhower Health, we want to give this choice back to the consumer.”

Another important tip from Board Certified Cardiologist Dr. Choe is to remember your ABCS:

  • Aspirin use when appropriate
  • Blood pressure control
  • Cholesterol control
  • Smoking cessation

To work toward achieving excellence in the ABCS and heart rehabilitation, Eisenhower’s Population Health Initiative is focusing on improving blood pressure control in the Coachella Valley, helping the CDC to achieve its goal.