Around 600,000 people die of heart disease in the US annually. Another way of putting it: One in every four American deaths is caused by heart disease. And according to the CDC, about half of all Americans (49%) have at least one of the key factors of heart disease. In addition to endangering lives, heart disease also puts a strain on the economy. The total cost of health care services, medication and lost productivity related to coronary heart disease is estimated at $108.9 billion each year.
As a result, there has been a large push in recent years toward preventing heart disease and stroke in the US. One initiative set on accomplishing this is the Million Hearts Project, which aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017 by engaging providers, patients, communities, and other stakeholders to implement evidence-based policies and strategies that have been known to have a positive impact on prevention. The Million Hearts Project was launched in September of 2011 by the Department of Health and Human Services, with CMS and the CDC working alongside private-sector organizations and other federal agencies.
The project’s efforts include urging individuals, professionals, and health officials to take their million hearts pledge, which includes commitments to quitting smoking, exercising for 30 minutes on most days of the week, and eating a heart-healthy diet. In looking to data to help shape the larger picture, Million Hearts Initiative has also released the following “benchmarks for success:”
Still, data is only part of the equation here. The behavioral modification required to reach benchmarks like reducing sodium intake and artificial trans-fat consumption is notoriously difficult to inspire, and will require in-depth conversations and diligent follow-up between patients and physicians.
While tech companies and physicians alike continue to search for ways to motivate meaningful behavioral changes, Health Monitoring Systems is looking for ways to make access to the relevant data simple and timely for public health. 67 million American adults (31%) have high blood pressure—one of the risk factors for heart disease—and high blood pressure costs the US $47.5 billion each year. In the near future, new data elements like blood pressure and smoking status will be available in EpiCenter as one component of enhanced observation analysis, which is being designed to assist public health even further in protecting the health of the hearts of the communities they serve.