In Their Own Words: Why the “Alliance for the Million Hearts Campaign” Matters

CDC Foundation is convening a public-private coalition to help fuel the Million Hearts® Initiative toward its goal of preventing one million heart attacks and strokes by 2022. We are pleased to welcome Amgen and Bayer as funders and FH Foundation and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors as the first activation partners.

The Alliance for the Million Hearts Campaign has committed to developing a prevention-focused communication campaign that is co-created with people directly connected to and impacted by cardiovascular disease. Below are some of those voices speaking on behalf of the Alliance partners:


On behalf of Amgen – “For a couple of years after my heart attack, I lived in fear that it might happen again. Then I decided to take control of my health. My cardiologist told me that it was important to lower my bad cholesterol and that it would make things better in the long run, so I changed my lifestyle. I adjusted my diet, and I started to exercise with my husband, an avid walker. My doctor told me that my cholesterol was one of the most important risk factors associated with another heart attack, so he put me on a treatment plan that works for me. This campaign will help reach and empower more people before they have a heart attack. That’s something to celebrate.” – Laurie W., 62

Bill Holston

On behalf of Bayer – “I’m a very lucky guy who’s alive today despite ignoring too many warning signs. Ten years ago, I had a quadruple coronary artery bypass graft procedure that saved my life. Had it not been for a relatively routine test before a knee surgery, I probably would not have known that my main coronary artery was 99 percent blocked and at least three others were 80–90 percent blocked. This chance discovery likely saved my life, but I know there are many more who were not as lucky. That’s why I believe in this Million Hearts® Communication Campaign and this chance we have to help reach, and save, more lives.” – Bill Holsten, 64

Kristen Gradney

On behalf of FH Foundation – “I almost lost my husband when he was 27 because of a heart attack. The damage to his heart left him with heart failure just a few years later. We spent years searching for answers only to discover Chad’s high cholesterol was caused by a genetic condition, called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). We know now that risk factors for heart disease can be inherited, causing generations to lose family members too early in life. Now we know our son also inherited FH, so managing his cholesterol and other risk factors has become the most important thing we can do to greatly reduce his risk for heart disease. Campaigns like this one are important to raise awareness that heart disease really is preventable and to empower more people with the knowledge and resources they need to take action.” – Kristen Gradney, MHA, RDN, LDN

Dr. Bala

On behalf of NACDD – “Saving one million lives from heart attacks and strokes begins with conversations, one heart at a time. People want to do the right thing for their health and their family's security, however, they do not always have the means and tools to do it. As a physician, I see firsthand how having a conversation with patients and their families to identify their barriers, working with them to develop steps to overcome them, and being their champion along their journey is the premise of preventive health. State health staff, who work both with healthcare workers and within the community are also critical to this success. Coalitions like this one help bring providers and state health staff to the table with other key stakeholders to build a diverse strategy that can work.” – Bala Murugan, MD, DrPH, Acting Chief Medical Officer and State Chronic Disease Director, Arkansas Department of Health