A statement by Kathleen Sebelius
(Victor Valley)– Heart disease is responsible for 1 of every 4 deaths in the United States, making it the leading cause of death in our nation. As we observe American Heart Month, there are some key steps you and your loved ones can take to protect against heart disease.
By maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and not smoking, you can dramatically reduce the risk of premature death or disability due to heart disease. Awareness of risk factors is also critical to preventing heart disease. Far too many people who are at high risk for heart disease don’t know it. That is why it is so important to get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly and to speak with your doctor about your health history.
The Affordable Care Act is making it easier than ever before to take care of your heart. Most health plans now must cover a set of preventive services, such as cholesterol and blood pressure checks, at no out-of-pocket costs to the consumer.
The security that comes with quality, affordable health insurance is vital to the fight against heart disease. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans are gaining access to health coverage, many for the first time. Under the health care law, patients can no longer be discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or diabetes.
In addition to expanding access to care, we are working to coordinate and strengthen heart disease prevention efforts across the nation through initiatives like Million Hearts®, Healthy People 2020 and The Heart Truth®.
Million Hearts and partners recently urged practices and health systems to improve blood pressure control through the adoption of standardized treatment protocols. Widespread adoption of simple, evidence-based treatment protocols can have a major impact on blood pressure control among patients, saving lives and preventing disability.
The Healthy People 2020 Heart Disease and Stroke objectives track the heart and stroke health of our Nation and set targets for improvements.
The Heart Truth’s nine 2014 community action program grantees are initiating year-long education programs for reaching women of color and low income with heart disease risk factor screenings and tailored interventions that encourage the adoption of heart healthy lifestyle behavior changes.
This American Heart Month, please consider what steps you and your family can take to promote a heart healthy lifestyle. There’s no better Valentine than a healthy heart!