New CDC Foundation Campaign Appeals to Americans – Focus On Your Heart Health During the Pandemic

ATLANTA — Now, 18 months into the pandemic, data are beginning to paint a clearer picture of the other health consequences of the pandemic, particularly on adults’ risk for heart disease—the leading cause of death in the United States. The CDC Foundation is taking note with a new campaign to remind adults of the importance of heart-healthy habits, including during a pandemic. Data collected during the pandemic show:

  • 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 early months of the pandemic;
  • Declines in physical activity—Obesity journal reported on a national survey that found sedentary behaviors increased and physical activity decreased during the pandemic
  • Increase in cardiovascular disease deaths—Deaths from heart disease and stroke increased in 2020, according to the National Center for Health Statistics; and
  • Concerns about healthy habits—Two-thirds (66 percent) of adults in the U.S. are concerned that the pandemic will keep them from practicing healthy habits like being active and eating healthier. (Based on a Porter Novelli Public Services PN View 360+ Survey, August 2021, unpublished data.)

As the nation accepts the reality of living with the pandemic another year, the CDC Foundation is launching a fall campaign to help address these health consequences and remind adults of the things that are within their control to get back to a full life. The “Start Small. Live Big.” campaign will encourage adults, particularly those over age 55, to get back on track with the small steps—like scheduling their medical appointments, getting active, and eating healthy—so that they can get back to living big.

“While we remain vigilant about keeping people safe during the pandemic, we must also remind adults about the importance of preventing and managing heart disease, which is still the leading cause of death in the U.S.,” said Lisa Waddell, MD, MPH, chief medical officer of the CDC Foundation. “We are proud to convene the Alliance for Million Hearts® and work with CDC to remind people there are small steps they can take now to get back to living a full and healthy life, while they also navigate the pandemic.”

“Cardiovascular deaths increased during the pandemic last year. However, we can put a stop to the pandemic’s negative effect on cardiovascular health as most heart disease and stroke deaths are preventable with appropriate medical care and healthy lifestyle changes,” said Laurence Sperling, MD, executive director of Million Hearts® in the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at CDC. “The message is more important now than ever: get current with your doctors’ appointments, get moving for regular physical activity, get on track with healthy eating and talk to your family about the importance of heart health. And remember, CDC recommends full vaccination against COVID-19 so you can participate in many of the activities that you did prior to the pandemic.”

This campaign is supported by the Alliance for Million Hearts®, a public-private coalition to help fuel the Million Hearts® Initiative toward its goal of preventing one million heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events. Amgen and Bayer are funders for the campaign; the FH Foundation and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) are community partners. Partners with the Alliance have helped develop the “Start Small. Live Big.” public service announcements (PSAs), which will launch in September. The effort will feature video PSAs, social media ads, influencer promotions, and collaboration with community partners.

Audiences can visit to learn more about the “Start Small. Live Big.” campaign and learn how they can improve their heart health with small steps.

About Million Hearts®
Million Hearts® 2022 is a national initiative co-led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes within five years. It focuses on a small set of priorities selected for their impact on preventing heart disease, stroke, and related conditions. CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention provides leadership and support for the Million Hearts® initiative, which began in 2012. The agency collaborates extensively with CMS, sets priorities, and leads the communications, partnership development, research, translation, and evaluation efforts for the initiative.