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The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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DHMH Press Releases : national million hearts tm initiative



BALTIMORE (February 28, 2012) - The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) today commemorated American Heart Month by making a commitment to Million HeartsT - a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years. Maryland is the first state to announce a coordinated commitment to the initiative.

Heart disease and stroke are the first and third leading causes of death in Maryland, responsible for 1 out of 3 deaths. Heart disease accounted for 24.9 percent of deaths, and stroke accounted for 5.2 percent of total deaths in 2010. In Maryland, 37.4 percent of adults reported high cholesterol and 30.1 percent of adults reported high blood pressure in 2009, and 15.2 percent of adults were current smokers in 2010. As part of the State Health Improvement Process, through which Maryland tracks 39 critical health measures in order to improve the health of residents, Maryland has identified reducing deaths from heart disease as a key priority.

"We have a wide array of tools at our disposal to help Marylanders live healthy lifestyles, prevent chronic disease and avoid heart attacks and strokes. Committing to the Million HeartsT initiative, which promotes the ABCS- Aspirin as appropriate, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation-will help us coordinate and maximize those tools in order to create a healthier Maryland," said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of DHMH.

In order to do its part in the Million HeartsT Initiative, Maryland has a series of ongoing and new programs and initiatives that focus on preventing heart disease and its risk factors - high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and tobacco use - and promoting healthy lifestyles.

These innovations range from clinical management efforts - such as the Maryland Medical Home Program that creates incentives for prevention, wellness and advance care - to community initiatives that aim to transform communities into healthy environments. In addition, Maryland is using the data-driven approach of Governor O'Malley's StateStat program improve efficiency and accountability in health promotion and disease prevention efforts. To view the full report outlining Maryland's commitment to Million HeartsT, visit's-Million-Hearts-Commitment.aspx. To learn more about the Million HeartsT Initiative, visit