Million Hearts Initiative Targets Hypertension in Georgia

May 11, 2015

On May 12, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA), along with other healthcare organizations, will host the Million Hearts Assembly at the Macon Marriott City Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Macon, Georgia.

DPH and GHA are teaming up with health care practices across the state for the Million Hearts Initiative to address the burden of strokes and heart attacks in Georgia. Registration is still open and participants can register for the free meeting online.

Assembly participants will gain an understanding of Georgia’s burden of hypertension, hear about the key components of Million Hearts in clinical and community arenas and identify support needed from public and private sectors to take action against heart attacks, strokes and hypertension.

“The day’s agenda is a combination of vision setting, successful strategies sharing and action planning using a systematic approach to improve cardiovascular and stroke systems of care,” said Joyce Reid, RN, MS, vice president of Community Health Connections at GHA.

Million Hearts is a national initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Through this initiative, partners across the public and private sectors pledge to prevent heart disease through environmental interventions and, in clinical settings, to improve adherence to evidence-based protocols that promote the ABC’S: Aspirin, when appropriate, blood pressure control, cholesterol management and smoking cessation.

The upcoming assembly marks the next phase in the Million Hearts work by DPH and GHA to participate in a national learning collaborative to address the “B” (blood pressure) of the ABC’S.

“We are focusing on hypertension because we are seeing an increase in the number individuals with high blood pressure in Georgia,” said Reid.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the single leading clinical cause of death in Georgia accounting for more than 20,000 deaths a year, or about 1 in 5 deaths overall, according to DPH’s Chronic Disease Section.

With data from the 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, DPH estimates that 3 million Georgians may be living with hypertension. That’s nearly 1 in 3 adults in Georgia who have been told that they have hypertension and an estimated 1 million undiagnosed with hypertension.

“We know there is more work to be done in preventing and controlling instances of heart disease in Georgia,” said Jean O’Connor, MPH, DrPH, director of DPH’s Chronic Disease Prevention Section at DPH. “During the Million Hearts meeting, we will review the state of science around hypertension control and identify methods to expand the reach of our existing hypertension interventions. We will also explore the Million Hearts initiative resources that could be implemented statewide to reduce illness and death from heart attacks and strokes.”

DPH and GHA are not alone in improving Georgia’s heart health. Many Georgia partners have already joined the Million Hearts initiative, including providers, practices, hospitals, employers and public health departments.

DPH’s Chronic Disease Prevention Section welcomes a wide variety of community and health leaders from throughout Georgia to attend the Million Hearts Assembly including community and health officials, public health specialists, health providers (such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists and stroke coordinators) EMS professionals, local businesses and the general public. 

The Million Hearts Assembly is also approved for six contact hours by the Georgia Hospital Association, which is an approved provider of continuing nursing education by the Alabama Nurses Association, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

For questions, please email Shana Scott at If you need help with registration, contact Britney Smith with GHA at or Brittany D. Taylor at

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