February is American Heart Month

Clinicians Corner: Diabetes and Heart Care Intersect 

It’s American Heart Month! In 2012, HHS established Million Hearts®, a five-year initiative co-led by CDC and CMS with the aim of preventing a million cardiovascular events over the next five years. The initiative continues with the same goal for 2022.

According to Million Hearts®, nearly a third of individuals across the nation have hypertension and 36% are obese, two risk factors for cardiovascular disease. One in three deaths in the U.S. is due to cardiovascular disease and one in six health care dollars is spent on cardiovascular disease. A focus on cardiovascular disease prevention and care very much complements the Health Center Program Diabetes Quality Improvement Initiative. Patients with diabetes are at increased risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. The bottom line: prevention and management can save lives, improve quality of life, and save dollars.

Last fall, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) released updated Standards of Care. The announcement mentioned a first-ever endorsement from the American College of Cardiology. The ADA states that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability for people with diabetes and so the new standards “aim to reduce heart attacks, strokes, heart failure.”

HRSA-funded health centers exceed both the national average and Healthy People 2020 Goals for blood pressure control (according to 2017 UDS and NCQA data). This is great news, but we can always do more.

Throughout this month’s Digests, we’re sharing resources that can inform your efforts to help patients prevent and manage cardiovascular disease. In addition, I encourage you to revisit the special diabetes-focused edition of the Digest we produced last fall. Many of the lessons learned, promising practices, and resources may be applicable.


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