Office for the Aging


February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month, a good time to discuss heart health with your loved ones. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, so awareness is key.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 610,000 Americans die each year from heart-related diseases. Fighting all heart diseases costs the United States about $207 billion each year (including the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity). As with all chronic diseases, the best method of treatment is prevention.

High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key heart disease risk factors for heart disease. The CDC statistics tell us that about half of Americans (49%) have at least one of these three risk factors.

There are many resources that can help you learn more about heart health. Information about chronic heart disease in New York State is available on the Department of Health website. Additionally, an excellent resource for prevention information is Million Hearts, a program launched in 2011 by the CDC, along with state and local partners, to combat chronic heart disease. Million Hearts encourages heart-healthy choices, including avoiding tobacco use and reducing the amount of sodium and trans-fat in your diet. The ABCS of heart health—a focus of the program—was created to help people at risk remember: aspirin for people at risk; blood pressure control; cholesterol management; and smoking cessation. Exercise is also highly recommended.

In addition to heart disease, older adults are disproportionately affected by other chronic disease and conditions, such as arthritis and diabetes, as well as disabilities that result from injuries such as falls. The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) is engaged in a public-private partnership along with the New York State Department of Health to combat heart disease with initiatives like the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP). 

CDSMP is an evidence-based program developed by Stanford University that uses peer leaders to help people better manage chronic conditions like arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. The two-hour per week, six-week program helps people realize the value of engaging in physical activity, eating nutritiously, and interacting as an active participant in their health care choices.

To learn more about CDSMP, visit the programs and services section of the NYSOFA website.