The Million Hearts Initiative to prevent 1,000,000 heart attacks and strokes in just five years ending December 31, 2017 is the latest effort to reign in the huge economic burden of largely preventable heart attacks and strokes - about $500 billion total economic burden annually or over a billion dollars a day.
To reach the 1,000,000 goal requires identifying those who are likely develop an acute cardiovascular event in 5 years. These are those with already significant plaque burden. The next step is to treat them aggressively to alter the normal progressive coarse of atherosclerosis by inducing plaque stabilization and when possible, even regression. While treating all modifiable risk factors is ideal, only optimal cholesterol therapy has been proven to reliably induce plaque stabilization and regression.
The science behind heart attack and stroke prevention is strong but the nationwide implimentation in clinical practice remains poor. The above study is an analysis of the US mortality data in 2000 showing the mortality consequences of the lack of appropriate care. There are not just mortality and morbidity consequences but also economic costs. The Million Hearts Initiative makes a bold attempt to reduce both the human and the economic tolls of this major public health problem. It deserves the support of everyone.