"Think Again" About American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month. Since its inception in 1964, American Heart Month has done much to increase awareness about cardiovascular disease  and how to prevent it. As a result, improvements in heart disease prevalence and mortality rates are being made each year. 

For example, 2014 statistics from the American Heart Association report that on average, one person dies every 40 seconds from heart disease, an improvement from 39 seconds in 2012.1 That said, heart disease is still the number one killer in the United States, killing 787,650 Americans each year - that's 1 in every 3 deaths. 1

Certain Populations are at a Greater Risk for Heart Disease

While the overall statistics about heart disease are staggering by themselves, the facts related to womenBlack Americans  and Hispanic Americans are even more concerning. 

Here are just a few examples:

  • Black Americans are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke than White Americans.1
  • Black Americans are 2 times more likely than White Americans to be diagnosed with diabetes and 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with hypertension-important risk factors for heart disease.2
  • An estimated 30% of adult Hispanics have diabetes,4 but nearly half don’t realize it.1 Untreated, diabetes can lead to serious complications, including cardiovascular disease and renal failure.3
  • Among Latino Americans age 20 and older, 77.5% of men and 75.1% of women are overweight - an important risk factor for heart disease.4
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, killing more women than all cancers combined.1
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.5

Think Again: Optimizing Heart Failure Management to Reduce Disparities in Outcomes

The prevalence of heart disease and related conditions in women, Black Americans and Hispanic/Latino Americans is compounded by the fact that these populations are also less likely to receive life-saving treatments than Caucasian males. This is why Close the Gap is dedicated to broadening the discussion about equitable cardiovascular care. 

In 2013, we launched our "Think Again"  toolkit. The educational materials and resources included in the kit were designed to help Health Care Professionals (HCPs) consistently follow current heart failure treatment guidelines, educate patients regarding risk factors, reduce racial/ethnic disparities and provide better patient care for everyone. The Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) endorsed the patient exam room poster and the National Medical Association (NMA) endorsed the complete toolkit. 

Both the ABC and the NMA received grants to launch projects that will educate their members about the "Think Again" toolkit in 2014. Close the Gap is also launching targeted geographical pilots of the program. 

We're dedicated to increasing equitable cardiovascular care for all patients throughout the year, not just during American Heart Month! Follow our progress: Join our network


1 Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics - 2014 Update: A Report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2014; 129: e28-e292.

2 American Heart Association. Heart disease and stroke statistics 2010 update. Available at www.americanheart.org.

3 Mosca L, Linfante A, Benjamin E, et al. National study of physician awareness and adherence to cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines. Circulation. 2005;111:499-510.

4 American Heart Association. Statistical fact sheet. 2012 update. Hispanics/Latinos & Cardiovascular Disease.

5 Zipes D, Wellens H. Sudden cardiac death. Circulation. 1998;98:2334-2551.

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