- About 69 million US adults have a heart agethat is 5 or more years older than their actual age, according to this month’s Vital Signs.
- About 3 in 4 heart attacks and strokes are due to risk factors that increase heart age; calculate your heart age here.
- States can promote efforts to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by encouragingsmoke-free policies, safe walking areas, and access to healthy, low-sodium foods.
- Interested in learning more? Join us for a Vital Signs Town Hall Teleconference onTuesday, September 8, at 2–3 pm (EDT).
What Can Be Done
The Federal government is:
- Requiring most health plans to cover recommended preventive services at no out-of-pocket cost (such as co-pays or deductibles) through theAffordable Care Act, for example, blood pressure screening and tobacco cessation interventions and counseling to prevent heart disease and stroke.
- Leading the national Million Hearts® initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.
- Providing resources to all 50 states to address chronic disease prevention, including heart disease and stroke, including through the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
- Leading national campaigns that address causes of heart disease and stroke, such as Let's Move!, and Tips from Former Smokers.
- Promote safe walking areas and access to healthy food in communities.
- Address tobacco use comprehensively by promoting smoking quitlines and tobacco-free areas, increasing the price of tobacco products, and running hard-hitting anti-tobacco ads.
- Partner with hospitals to identify and address the health care issues in their community.
- Prevent heart disease and stroke by using easily understood communication materials to promote how to lower heart age and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers can:
- Calculate heart age among your patients aged 30–74 and talk with them about the effect of risk factors on their heart health.
- Help patients choose a risk factor or two to focus on improving first, such as quitting smoking, getting regular exercise, making healthy eating a part of their lives, and helping them take their medications as prescribed.
- Refer patients to community resources such as smoking quitlines and diabetes prevention programs that will support them as they make and keep these lifestyle changes.
- Continue to use other calculators recommended by national guidelines that assess cardiovascular risk and help inform treatment decisions.
- Learn your heart age and how to improve it.
- Start by choosing a risk factor or two that you're ready to change, like smoking or high blood pressure, and focus on improving them first.
- Work with your doctor to make heart healthy choices for a lower heart age.
- Take action at any age to lower your heart age and keep it low over time.