The Federal government and the American Heart Association including its division the American Stroke Association are joining forces in the fight against heart disease and stroke, America's number one and number three killers, respectively.
Several Federal health agencies and the association signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to speed progress toward the heart disease and stroke goals set forth in Healthy People 2010, a national health promotion and disease prevention initiative.
"This historic Memorandum of Understanding will create a working partnership that promises to greatly improve the nation's cardiovascular health by the year 2010," said Surgeon General David Satcher.
American Heart Association President Rose Marie Robertson, MD, called the agreement a "milestone in public and private sector cooperation." "The association and the Federal government have agreed to focus and coordinate our combined efforts to significantly reduce the impact of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases on our nation by 2010," Robertson said.
The Federal health agencies signing the Memorandum of Understanding are:
- National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the NIH
- Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office of Public Health and Science
- Office of the Surgeon General, Office of Public Health and Science (Department of Health and Human Services)
The MOU signing took place in Bethesda at the National Institutes of Health.
The need for the MOU was underscored by the findings from the NHLBI-sponsored National Conference on Cardiovascular Disease and Prevention, which revealed that progress in reducing the death rate from cardiovascular disease has slowed and that there are striking differences in cardiovascular death rates by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and geography. The MOU was conceived to address these issues as well as the goals of Healthy People 2010 to increase the quality and years of healthy life and eliminate health disparities.
The Memorandum of Understanding establishes four cooperative goals, as follows:
- Prevent the development of risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke
- Detect and treat risk factors for CVD and stroke
- Achieve early identification and treatment of cardiovascular disease and stroke, especially in their acute phases
- Prevent the recurrence and complications of CVD and stroke
The Federal agencies and the American Heart Association will work to accomplish these goals through focused initiatives including: population- and community-based public education and health promotion programs; activities to bring about policy, systemic and environmental improvements in the nation's cardiovascular health care delivery systems; research; media-based public awareness campaigns about the warning signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke; promoting professional education and training, including co-hosting of national conferences and the dissemination of "best practices" among the cardiovascular community; and other activities.
In signing the agreement, Robertson noted the continuing, pressing need for a national effort against heart disease and stroke. "Although many advances have been made in the fight against heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases, these maladies continue to kill nearly 950,000 Americans each year, more than the next six leading causes of death combined," Robertson said.
Stroke remains the nation's number three killer, and all cardiovascular diseases are a major cause of long-term disability in this country, Satcher added. He noted that in 2001, cardiovascular diseases are expected to cost the nation nearly $300 billion in medical costs and lost productivity. All told, about 61 million Americans are currently suffering from some form of cardiovascular disease.
Robertson concluded, "By coordinating with the government's Healthy People 2010 initiative, and closely aligning our mutual goals and efforts, we can make a major contribution to the nation's cardiovascular health by achieving the goals set out in this landmark Memorandum of Understanding."
For more information, visit: www.nhlbi.nih.gov; www.americanheart.org; www.ninds.nih.gov; www.surgeongeneral.gov; www.cdc.gov; http://www.health.gov/healthypeople.