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N C Med J. 2012 Nov-Dec;73(6):449-56.

30,000 fewer heart attacks and strokes in North Carolina: a challenge to prioritize prevention.

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Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Medical Center Blvd, Winston-Salem NC 27157, USA.


Heart disease and stroke are leading causes of death in North Carolina and are also important contributors to poor health and excess health care expenditures. The risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and other forms of cardiovascular disease are well known, and include smoking, high blood pressure, elevated serum cholesterol levels, diabetes mellitus, and obesity. These risk factors persist as a result of suboptimal assessment, treatment, and control; adverse trends in health behaviors; and environmental and societal conditions negatively affecting the pursuit of optimal cardiovascular health. If North Carolina is to do its share in making it possible for the national Million Hearts initiative to meet its goals, then 30,000 heart attacks and strokes need to be prevented in the state over the next 5 years. Both the Million Hearts initiative and North Carolina's Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force Plan include specific recommendations aimed at the primary and secondary prevention of heart disease and stroke. Million Hearts focuses on the ABCS: aspirin use when appropriate, blood pressure control, cholesterol control, and smoking cessation or abstention. The task force plan also addresses physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and the control of obesity and diabetes. The commentaries published in this issue of the NCMJ address the challenge of cardiovascular disease prevention among children and adults across the state and highlight efforts to enhance prevention via public policies and legislation, community coalitions, and quality improvement in the clinical arena.

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