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Be one in a million

A leading initiative to prevent heart attacks and strokes

The Million Hearts initiative’s goal: Prevent one million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years. How do you become one of the million prevented, instead of one of the two million affected?

The best way to guard your heart is to live a healthy lifestyle. The Million Hearts initiative stresses four core strategies, labeled the “ABCS”: appropriate aspirin therapy, blood pressure control, cholesterol control and smoking cessation.

A recent study proved that the whole is better than the sum of its parts. Healthy behaviors — maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and never smoking — are best when combined. Focusing on one over the others — eating a cheeseburger, but sweating it off at the gym, not exercising, but skipping dessert — can help you slim your waistline but are less helpful for your overall health.

Measuring up heart disease

  • One in three deaths in the U.S. is due to heart disease.
  • Two million heart attacks and strokes occur in the U.S. each year.
  • Eighty million people in the U.S. have some form of heart disease — severe chest pain, heart attack, heart failure and stroke.
  • Heart disease and strokes cost the nation $445 billion each year in healthcare costs.
  • Many risk factors for heart disease and stroke — high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity — are preventable and controllable.

Some people have a higher risk than others. This includes those with existing heart conditions, family history, or unhealthy behaviors — even age, gender, race and income can be influential risk factors. Talk to your doctor if you are affected by these risk factors and develop an action plan to control:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of physical activity
  • High blood sugar

One risk factor is worrisome. But when a few happen simultaneously, that’s called metabolic syndrome, a very serious group of health conditions. A new study found that people with metabolic syndrome and a normal weight are at a higher risk for heart failure than obese people without metabolic syndrome.

Looking for more information about heart health? If you have a GuideStone medical or dental plan, you have access to additional resources. Check out health and wellness resources at
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cigna.