Million Hearts: Celebrating One Year of Heart Health in Georgia

February 1, 2016

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is paving the way for Georgians to live with healthier hearts. 

Just in time for American Heart Month, DPH is expanding its public health programs in support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Million Hearts initiative, a national public health project aimed at preventing one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

Million Hearts is centered on five primary health behaviors that work together to reduce risks for heart disease. Collectively, these behaviors are known as the ABCD’S of heart health:

  • A – Aspirin, when appropriate
  • B – Blood pressure control
  • C – Cholesterol management
  • D – Diabetes management
  • S – Smoking cessation

Since joining Million Hearts in 2015, several public health districts in Georgia have served as trailblazers for cardiovascular health. During this first year, the districts focused on the ‘B’ in the ABCD’S of heart health, targeting their efforts on reducing undiagnosed hypertension.                                                      

The Coastal Health District cultivated a partnership with the Curtis V. Cooper Primary Care Center, allowing them to create an effective hypertension management program for local residents. DPH is now implementing the district’s model as a basis for a new statewide program focused on blood pressure management.  

Georgia’s South Health District launched a telemedicine program in four health departments throughout the district, providing patients increased access to hypertension care and medication. DPH anticipates this program will be effective in delivering optimal, focused health care services to patients in this community.

The East Central Health District implemented community-based programs and classes that treated hypertensive patients, encouraged tobacco cessation and educated residents on the importance of healthy lifestyle changes when combating high blood pressure.

As DPH enters its second year as a Million Hearts participant, the organization has established three primary goal areas for heart disease prevention including: control hypertension in 10 million more patients; decrease sodium intake in patients by 20 percent; and reduce the number of smokers by 6.3 million.

Beginning this spring, DPH will continue its successful work in the Coastal, South and East Central Health Districts by training public health nurses on proper hypertension management and working with health systems that utilize electronic medical records to identify patients with undiagnosed hypertension. 

DPH’s external partners are also contributing to these important public health interventions.

The Georgia Hospital Association, along with other key partners such as local federally qualified health centers and medical societies, are collaborating to improve the diagnosis and quality of care for people living with hypertension. These combined efforts are a part of DPH’s cardio metabolic syndrome initiative that works to prevent cardiovascular diseases including adult obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. 

Visit DPH online for more information about heart disease and the ABCD’S of heart health. To learn about the Million Hearts initiative, view tips for living a heart-healthy life and find healthy recipes, go to


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