CDC Foundation, Pfizer and Quest Diagnostics to Extend Million Hearts® Initiative to Local Communities

Americans suffer 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes each year, and cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), African-American men are 25 percent more likely to die from heart disease, compared to non-Hispanic white men. To help address this health disparity, the CDC Foundation is partnering with Pfizer and Quest Diagnostics to launch the Million Hearts® “Healthy is Strong” initiative. 

This effort is being targeted to African-American men between the ages of 40 to 65 in two communities in the Southeastern United States where cardiovascular disease is high. Heart attacks and stroke are largely avoidable by managing medical conditions and making lifestyle changes. The goal of this new campaign is to raise awareness about prevention, particularly among African-American men, as well as promote patient engagement with the healthcare system. As part of the campaign launch, a suite of culturally-tailored materials is also being released. The campaign will broaden its impact by leveraging a variety of local and national partner networks and tools to disseminate key messages and materials. The partnership announced today will elevate and advance the work of Million Hearts®, a national initiative from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. 

According to CDC, death rates for heart disease and stroke have decreased in the United States in recent decades. However, rates for incidence and death continue to be high, especially among some populations, including those living in the Southeastern United States. This campaign will conduct a pilot focused on African-American men in two communities in the Southeastern United States—Clayton County, GA, and Richland County in Columbia, SC.

“We're all at risk for heart disease and stroke. However, certain groups—including African Americans—are at higher risk than others,” said David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute and the Center of Excellence on Health Disparities and former Surgeon General of the United States. “The fact that heart attacks and strokes are preventable is such a critically important message, and the ‘Healthy is Strong’ campaign has the potential to make a real difference in these two communities.” 

The Million Hearts® “Healthy is Strong” initiative is made possible through funding support from Pfizer and in-kind testing donations from Quest Diagnostics to the CDC Foundation. The campaign involves formative research, implementation in two pilot communities, leveraging community-level healthcare system supports, and ongoing evaluation of the program to determine if this model could be used in other communities. CDC is providing subject-matter expertise and access to stakeholder networks. The key goals of this initiative involve increasing awareness that heart attacks and strokes are preventable; empowering and activating patients; targeting populations with the highest cardiovascular disease burden; and informing public health efforts to advance the prevention of heart attacks and strokes. 

“We are grateful to Pfizer and Quest Diagnostics for supporting this important cardiovascular disease prevention campaign,” said Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “The Million Hearts® initiative has such an important public health goal, and the CDC Foundation is proud to be a part of expanding this work.” 

This campaign will also encourage an important prevention goal of the Million Hearts initiative, talking to a health care professional about the “ABCS” of heart health:

  • Aspirin use when appropriate;
  • Blood pressure control;
  • Cholesterol management; and
  • Smoking cessation.

“Heart disease and stroke touch millions in the United States today,” said Janet Wright, M.D., executive director of Million Hearts® in CDC’s Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. “This new partnership has the potential to help those at higher risk—and their families—lead lives free of heart attack and stroke.”  

About Million Hearts®

Million Hearts is a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Million Hearts® brings together communities, health systems, nonprofit organizations, federal agencies, and private-sector partners from across the country to fight heart disease and stroke. For additional information, visit