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Winter brings an increased risk of home fires. Accordingly, the National Fire Protection Association ( NFPA) and the United States Fire Administration ( USFA) have launched the " Put A Freeze On Winter Fires" campaign, aimed at creating nationwide awareness from December through March about how to prevent home fires. Click here to read more.

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February 2016 
The Heart of the Matter

Heart health can be a complicated issue for patients, health providers, health insurers and policy makers to address. Various forms of heart disease can negatively affect quality of life, while simultaneously creating a financial burden for individuals and the U.S. healthcare system. It is well known that heart disease is one of the most common and expensive illnesses in America, but the social factors influencing heart disease prevalence can be obscure and difficult to resolve.
Heart or cardiovascular disease (CVD) refers to degenerative conditions that stem from arterial plaque deposits which may lead to atherosclerosis, heart attack or stroke. Heart failure, arrhythmia and congenital heart conditions are other common heart problems. According to a 2015 report produced by the American Heart Association, in conjunction with the CDC and the NIH, heart-related deaths are expected to exceed 20 million globally, by 2030. Diseases of the heart kill more Americans than all forms of cancer, however deaths related to CVD have shown a 39% decline from 2001 to 2011. As with many ailments, low-income populations and certain racial groups suffer more from heart disease. Close to half of all African Americans experience some form of CVD in their lifetime.
Lifestyle behaviors are important to heart health, but there are several risk factors that many have no control over. Race/ethnicity, age, gender, education level, income, geographic location, stress levels and childhood health (the social determinants of health) all play a major role in heart disease risks. Healthy eating and regular exercise are key to heart health, but how do you implement these and other healthy lifestyle habits in the midst of so many barriers? Addressing the national and global heart disease epidemic requires multifaceted preventive and treatment methods that focus on the myriad social factors that contribute to heart disease prevalence at the local level. So what is the heart of the matter in the case of heart disease?
Given the confounding nature of the etiological factors contributing to heart disease, we must ask ourselves, is the epidemic of heart disease the symptom of a frayed health system? Is that system weakened due to inadequate social supports and a growing gap between the rich and the poor? Answering these questions truthfully and honestly can help to address the more complex contributors to the heart disease epidemic in America. Visit us on Twitter to share your thoughts.

Regional Spotlight: The Million Hearts Initiative     

Although heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association (AHA), there are promising large-scale efforts to address heart-related illnesses.  The Million Hearts Initiative (Million Hearts) is a prevention program intended to minimize the number of heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. by 1 million in a five-year time frame. Million Hearts began in 2011 under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), with support from the AHA. This year, in 2016, Million Hearts will assess its progress towards meeting their goal. Over the past five years the multi-pronged approach focused on both community-based and clinical interventions. Aspirin use, Blood pressure, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation (ABCS), are the four pillars upon which the Million Hearts program was built.
At the community level smoking cessation efforts have been matched with nutrition education to lower the number of people dealing with high blood pressure. In the clinical setting, the use of electronic health records has been used to aid providers in identifying patients who may benefit from an ABCS emphasis. Simple interventions in healthcare such as empowering patients to keep track of blood pressure at home or ensuring all skills of the healthcare workforce are utilized has helped to promote team-based, patient-centered care. Combined, these innovations have increased aspirin use as a preventive measure by 23%, helped patients control their blood pressure and provided smoking cessation classes to 47% more patients than in years prior. More impressive, Millions Hearts has noticed a 20% decrease in sodium consumption and a 50% decrease in trans-fat consumption.
Million Hearts, in addition to the ABCS, is complimented in part by some statutes in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Synergistic programming makes Million Hearts an affordable, yet effective national heart health project. The initiative has grown tremendously in a relatively short amount of time by using existing resources from both public and private partners. Visit the official Million Hearts website to learn more and to explore how you can get involved.
Town Highlight: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA is a city that has dealt with a fair share of demographic and financial highs and lows. Located in Philadelphia County, the City of Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia is home to roughly 1.5 million people, a steadily rising number.  The city is predominately African American (42%) followed by Non-Hispanic White (36%), Hispanics or Latino (13%) and Asians (7%), based on County Health Rankings data.   Compared to similar, former industrial cities, (such as Baltimore, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, and others), Philadelphia maintains a higher poverty rate and a lower medium income.  

In 2012 the city's unemployment rate was 10.7% compared to 7.8% for Pennsylvania and 8.1% nationally, according to a 2015 report produced by The Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew). These and other systemic issues that the city deals with are not unique. Philadelphia, a once thriving city, is recovering from the vast loss of its tax base fueled in part by redlining and "white flight", concentrations of poverty compounded by the lingering affects of racially motivated residential segregation. Data from recent Pew findings reveals that Philadelphia is becoming slightly more economically stable with unemployment decreasing by 2.2% between 2013 and 2014, a more stable tax base and a decline in crime rates. Simultaneously the city has several urban development projects underway such as the South Philly Food Co-op, the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, and ACHIEVEability Click here to learn more about Philadelphia's economic development and recovery efforts.
In the News:
A Unique Partnership between HHS and CVS Health: In a public-private social media partnership, the  HHS' Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and  CVS Health combined the interactive feature of healthfinder.gov (myhealthfinder.gov) into the CVS MinuteClinic website.  Initially, the results showed that CVS more than tripled the traffic into the myhealthfinder.gov website, with more than 2.5 million CVS MinuteClinic patients arriving at myhealthfinder.gov where they received  information on  health literacy, disease prevention and health promotion. Click here to read more.

Improvements in Insurance Rates for Latino Children: According to a study conducted by the  Georgetown University Health Policy Institute and the National Council of La Raza,  the rate of uninsured Hispanic children fell to an historic low (9.7%) in 2014.  There are still 1.7 million Hispanic children that lack health insurance. Hispanic children make up 24.4% of the nation's overall child population, but they comprise roughly 40% of all uninsured children. Read more here

Local Food, Local Places for Economic Development: The U.S. Department of Agriculture has partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the CDC and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to spur economic development linked to local food systems that contribute to healthy communities. Local Foods, Local Places has inspired many innovative food system programs around the country. Food hubs, such as community kitchens, school nutrition education programs and transit oriented community gardens have helped communities- nation wide. Click here to learn more about the Local Food, Local Places program. 
The Small Businesses Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Program (SBIR/STTR) spans various federal sectors to fund entrepreneurs that have the capacity to develop innovative health or health related technologies and products. Small businesses that craft technology innovations designed to promote health equity are of particular interest to NIMHD. One of the primary goals of the SBIR/STTR program is to ensure socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners have access to funds for innovation in health disparities research. Innovators with a focus on health education, community-based research and prevention models should consider applying for SBIR/STTR funding. Click here to learn more.

Funding Opportunities
Upcoming Events

HPRC Events:

WHEN: Friday, February 26th 2016; 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.
WHERE: Greenbelt Community Center, 15 Crescent Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770
DESCRIPTION: Join HPRC for our housing policy forum! During the event we will discuss the link between adequate housing and optimal health. We will also highlight some of the findings from HPRC's publication "Healthy Homes and Healthier People"All health policy stakeholders (including clinicians, health advocates, health consumers and policy makers), are encouraged to attend. Lunch will be served! Click here to register

WHEN: Wednesday, February 3, 2016; 12:00-1:30 p.m., PST
DESCRIPTION: The webinar examines 6 common and costly health conditions and 18 interventions in order to build a stronger and more collaborative relationship between the health care and public health sectors. Click here to register.

WHEN: February 11, 2016; 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.
WHERE: Natcher Conference Center, Building 45, Balcony C, NIH Campus, Bethesda, MD
DESCRIPTION: Join in to learn how researchers are using social media to identify populations of need. This event will explore community-level social media health tracking methods. Click here to register.

WHO: Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence (HPOE)  
WHEN: Tuesday, February, 23 2016; 12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m. EST
DESCRIPTION:  This webinar will focus on important social factors that impact health outcomes and health disparities including the race/ethnicity and English proficiency level of a patient. Join HPOE to learn what hospitals are doing to address social factors relating to health in a clinical setting. Click here to register.

Please feel free to contact the HPRC Team at 301.375.2021 with any questions.

Thank you,

The Health Policy Research Consortium

HPRC, a CTIS Inc. division, is supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) of the National Institutes of Health under award number #1U54MD008608-01. This content does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Health Policy Research Consortium
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Phone: (301) 375-2021