Alliance for the Million Hearts® Campaigns Launches Effort Encouraging Adults To Prioritize Their Cardiovascular Health Amid COVID-19


COVID-19’s impact on our individual lives, communities, and public health system has been enormous. And looking ahead, the virus will no doubt have lasting consequences on our everyday health. In fact, data shows it already has.

Data collected during the pandemic shows:

• Delays in medical care – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 41% of U.S. adults delayed or avoided medical care during the pandemic;

• Declines in physical activity -- Obesity journal reported on a national survey that found sedentary leisure behaviors increased and physical activity declined during the pandemic;

• Increase in cardiovascular disease deaths – deaths from heart disease and stroke increased during the pandemic, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association; and

• Concerns about healthy habits –a recent national Porter Novelli View 360+ survey found two-thirds (66 percent) of Americans have some concern that the pandemic will keep them from practicing healthy habits like being active and eating healthier.

These statistics emphasize the importance of people prioritizing their medical care, physical activity and heart-healthy habits, especially during the pandemic. They also highlight the importance of educating everyone on key ways to get back on track with health=.

To further highlight the importance of prioritizing heart health, the CDC Foundation is proud to convene the Alliance for the Million Hearts® Campaigns, which is developing national, prevention-focused communication campaigns to help people understand their personal risk for heart disease and stroke. This month, the Alliance is launching the “Start Small. Live Big.” campaign that encourages people, especially adults ages 55-64 years, to get back on track with small steps so they can get back to living big. Research has shown that small measures like getting physical activity for even 5 minutes a day has real health benefits.

As a public health physician for over 28 years in preventive medicine, I’ve seen the need for preventive strategies related to heart disease that not only educate but also empower people to take an active role in their health care. As the chief medical officer for the CDC Foundation, I’m excited to see us convene an effort that supports at the individual level and also encourages collaboration across networks—family, friends, communities, and health care providers.

The “Start Small. Live Big.” campaign will feature public service announcements, which will be launched in September. The effort will feature video public service announcements, social media ads, influencer promotions and employee communications across the CDC Foundation, CDC and partner channels.

The continued work of the communications initiative will focus on adults ages 55–64 years old encouraging them to take small, but critical steps to take control of their heart health including:

• Getting current with doctor’s appointments: Don’t delay. Schedule your doctor visit today for a routine medical check-up or a visit with your specialist. Talk to your doctor about your blood pressure and cholesterol and ways to keep them under control.

• Get moving for regular physical activity: Physical activity is an important step to enjoying life’s moments, and every little bit helps. Even five minutes a day has real health benefits, like improved sleep, reduced blood pressure, and improved bone strength. You can build up to more over time. Find a few minutes to start getting active today.

• Get on track with healthy eating: Small changes in your eating habits can make a big difference in your heart health. And, there are so many options—like eating more fruits and vegetables, cutting back on salt and managing your portion sizes.

• Get talking with family about heart health: No matter how old they get, kids look up to their parents, so be a heart-healthy role model for your kids. Show them it’s never too late to start practicing healthier habits. Talk to them about your heart health history, including whether or not heart disease or stroke runs in your family.

CDC also recommends full vaccination against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free. After you’ve been fully vaccinated, you can participate in many of the activities that you did prior to the pandemic.

At the start of 2021, with the promise of a COVID-19 vaccine, many Americans hoped we would be returning to normalcy soon. While the spread of the Delta variant and vaccine hesitancy has posed challenges to this goal, people now have more options to better adapt to life in a pandemic. The steps above are just a few key examples of how, despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, each person can lower their risk for heart disease and stroke.

You can learn more about the campaign, and small steps you can take toward heart health by visiting

Lisa Waddell headshot
Lisa Waddell is the chief medical officer with the CDC Foundation.