Despite Minnesota’s significant progress reducing heart-related deaths, heart disease is still Minnesota’s second leading cause of death, claiming thousands of lives annually, and costing the state nearly two billion dollars a year.
To reduce the toll of heart disease, the Minnesota Department of Health is encouraging Minnesotans to take a pledge to protect their hearts this February as part of American Heart Month.
“Minnesotans should be proud of the significant progress we have made in reducing heart disease deaths,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “Minnesota’s doctors and hospitals are among the best in the country at treating this disease and we’re working to make that care even better. But my goal is to reduce the number of people who need that care by improving the heart health of every Minnesotan through better diets, more physical activity, appropriate aspirin therapy, and elimination of smoking.”
In 2000, Minnesota became the first state in the nation where heart disease fell to the second leading cause of death behind cancer. Declining death rates that began decades ago have continued through 2010, the latest year for complete vital statistics records.
Despite this significant progress, 7,144 Minnesotans died from heart disease in 2010, representing 18 percent of all deaths in that year. Heart disease death rates also have remained persistently higher in many rural counties than in the Twin Cities and among American Indians.
In addition to being a leading cause of death, heart disease is a common chronic condition in Minnesotans ages 65 years and older, affecting 1 in 5 Medicare beneficiaries in Minnesota. Of the approximately 48,000 hospitalizations for heart disease in 2010, 8,460 were for heart attack and 11,243 for congestive heart failure. Total charges for these hospitalizations totaled over $1.8 billion.
As part of American Heart Month, MDH encourages all Minnesotans to make a pledge, at http://millionhearts.hhs.gov, to protect their hearts, as part of the Million Hearts initiative, a national initiative with the goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.
First steps Minnesotans can take to improve their heart health include stopping smoking, being physically active for 30 minutes on most days of the week, and eating a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, low in sodium, saturated and trans fats, and cholesterol. Knowing your heart health numbers for blood pressure and cholesterol, and talking about these with your health care provider will help them to manager your cardiovascular disease risk through medication or lifestyle changes. Everyone can learn more about heart disease and can take part in preventing a heart attack and stroke by taking the Million Hearts pledge at http://millionhearts.hhs.gov.
In addition, the Million Hearts campaign website provides resources for health care providers such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, public health professionals, and organizations such as hospitals, health care systems, community-based organizations, employers, and state and local governments to help reach the goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes by:
•Improving access to effective care.
•Improving the quality of care for the ABCS.
•Appropriate aspirin therapy.
•Blood pressure control.
•Focusing clinical attention on the prevention of heart attack and stroke.
•Activating the public to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle.
•Improving the prescription and adherence to appropriate medications for ABCS.
The Million Hearts initiative is co-led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working with several federal agencies and the American Heart Association.
More information about heart disease and its risk factors is available from MDH’s Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention Unit at www.health.state.mn.us/cvh/.
For more information about cardiovascular diseases and American Heart Month events, visit the Minnesota Affiliate of the American Heart Association’s website at www.heart.org/twincitiesgored.html.
For more heart-healthy stories, see the Thursday, Feb. 14 print edition of the Times.