A group of doctors and nurses joining together in a heart shape with patients
Healthy Hearts Network Partner Spotlight

CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention: Advancing Heart Health during American Heart Month and Beyond


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention’s (DHDSP) mission is to provide public health leadership to improve cardiovascular health, reduce the burden of heart disease, and eliminate disparities associated with heart disease and stroke. CDC’s DHDSP works to improve cardiovascular health through public health strategies and policies that promote healthy lifestyles and behaviors, healthy environments and communities, and access to early and affordable detection and treatment. To learn more about the importance of cardiovascular health and actions you can take to improve your heart health, The Heart Truth® connected with Janet Wright, MD, MACC, FPCNA Director, CDC Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.

How does CDC’s DHDSP work to improve heart health outcomes for Americans?  
CDC’s DHDSP provides public health leadership to improve cardiovascular health for all, reduce the burden associated with heart disease and stroke, and eliminate related disparities. 
DHDSP supports all 50 states and DC in conducting heart disease and stroke prevention efforts, tracks trends in cardiovascular risk factors and diseases, and engages in applied research to support evidence-based practice and evaluate policies and programs. The Division also supports two public-facing campaigns: Heart-Healthy Steps and “Live to the Beat”.

What are three preventative actions people can take to protect their heart health?
To protect their heart health, people can:

  • Work with a clinician: Understand your personal risk for heart disease and stroke, learn the signs and symptoms of heart disease, and keep track of your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. 
  • Take small steps to move more and eat well: Small steps add up, and it’s never too late to get started by adding a walk to your day or cutting back on sodium. 
  • Focus on your mental health: Learning ways to cope with long-term stress can protect your health and lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

What resources or programs do you have that promote heart health?
In addition to the Heart-Healthy Steps and "Live to the Beat" campaigns, DHDSP has numerous educational resources for patients and health professionals. Million Hearts® provides tools to support public health and health care professionals. 
The division offers GIS mapping and data tools, such as the Interactive Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke, and evaluation resources, including the Best Practices Clearinghouse with strategies for public health leaders. 
DHDSP also supports several programs to address heart disease and stroke, such as WISEWOMAN, which aims to help women reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke through screenings and lifestyle interventions. 

CDC’s DHDSP provides leadership and support for the Million Hearts® initiative. How does the Million Hearts “Live to the Beat’ campaign aim to help adults take steps to prevent heart disease and stroke?
The "Live to the Beat" campaign’s core message is that no matter where you are in your journey, you can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke by making small changes — and you can get started right now. Resources like the "Pulse Check” digital learning experience help empower individuals to create their own heart health journey, recognizing that everyone's journey is unique. 
Since its launch, the campaign has produced a suite of 65 culturally relevant health promotion and education resources; generated more than 504,000 connections to health education content online; engaged more than 18,000 audiences through community wellness activities; made more than 5,900 referrals to community health resources; and empowered more than 180 community ambassadors to promote CVD prevention in their local communities.
                     Kinetra Joseph, Campaign Director, CDC Foundation Million Hearts® Alliance

Can you share any activities you have planned for American Heart Month and/or National Wear Red Day® 2024?
For American Heart Month 2024, DHDSP is highlighting women’s heart health. Over 60 million women in the United States (U.S) are experiencing unacceptable and often avoidable heart-related illness, disability, and death outcomes. Although 1 in every 5 female deaths in the U.S. is from heart disease, only half of women recognize that heart disease is their number 1 killer. Heart disease is often underrecognized in women, which can result in the delay of treatment and preventive strategies. 
DHDSP offers an American Heart Month toolkit with resources for health care and public health professionals. This year the toolkit will have social media messaging that will be shared on DHDSP X (Twitter), Million Hearts®Facebook and LinkedIn, and “Live to the Beat” Facebook and Instagram. The social media messaging intends to empower women, their families, and their health care teams to listen to their voices and protect their hearts.

What have been some benefits of the partnership between the DHDSP and The Heart Truth?
DHDSP has appreciated NHLBI and The Heart Truth’s collaboration, spreading the word about our collective work, especially in sharing Division and Million Hearts® resources through The Heart Truth Highlights newsletter and across the Healthy Hearts Network, such as the second edition of the Million Hearts®/American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Cardiac Rehabilitation Change Package. Million Hearts® receives news and updates from The Heart Truth, which are included in the Million Hearts® Minute eUpdate newsletter. Million Hearts® also participated in a YouTube Live event on Heart Health & Aging with NHLBI and National Institute on Aging last fall.
In addition, NHLBI is a founding member of the Federal Hypertension Control Leadership Council, which fuels collaboration across HHS agencies and offices to improve prevention, detection, and treatment of hypertension. 

Are there resources from NHLBI or The Heart Truth that you have found useful for your outreach efforts?
NIH resources related to heart disease and stroke have been beneficial in our campaign communications. 
NHLBI resources have also been shared on the Division and Million Hearts® social platforms, such as this X (Twitter) post on sleep and heart health, this Facebook post on cholesterol and Heart Smart Basics, and this X (Twitter) post on the DASH eating plan.


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