Preventing heart disease and stroke should be a top priority in public health initiatives and is the best strategy for fighting the leading killers of Americans, according to a new report released Monday by the National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.

The Public Health Action Plan to Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke: Ten-Year Update provides recommendations for individuals, organizations and agencies to work together to achieve national goals targeted at reducing and eliminating heart disease and stroke.

The original Public Health Action Plan to Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke, first published in 2003, was a significant influence on the public health landscape. It provided the mission and goals for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention; led to the founding of the National Forum; and influenced the development of the Million Hearts Initiative, which is a CDC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-led initiative to eliminate 1 million heart attacks by 2017.

The American Heart Association was a founding agency for the original plan and remains one of the leading collaborators within the National Forum. The plan’s new focus on “cardiovascular health” mirrors the association’s 2020 impact goal, “to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.”

“When we set this bold new goal, we knew we could not achieve this alone,” said Mark Schoeberl, AHA’s EVP of Advocacy & Health Quality and a past chair of the National Forum. “We’ve made significant progress in the past decade, successes that are highlighted in this new report. But there’s still much to do – having a clear plan to be carried out by dedicated organizations and individuals working together can make major headway in our fight to end heart disease and stroke.”

Schoeberl, along with AHA’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., were part of the writing group for the updated Action Plan.

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