Cardiovascular disease is prevalent in our society, disproportionately impacting older Americans. According to the American Heart Association, more than 85 million American adults have one of more types of cardiovascular disease. Of these, more than 43 million (approximately half) are age 60 or older.
Across the country, ACL partner organizations are hosting educational events in recognition of American Heart Month. In Georgia, Open Hand Atlanta offers a tailored nutrition-focused heart health class at local senior centers throughout the month of February. In Utah, Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services is promoting American Heart Month by providing opportunities for blood pressure screening and a heart health presentation in each of their 16 senior centers. Additionally, the senior centers are encouraging older adults to attend at least three physical activity programs, including evidence-based interventions such as EnhanceFitness, Tai Chi for Arthritis, and the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program. And in New Jersey at the West Windsor Senior Center, older adults can participate in carotid artery and blood pressure screenings, as well as ongoing physical activity programs.
ACL also supports the delivery of evidence-based chronic disease self-management education programs (CDSME) in communities across the country. CDSME programs provide older adults and adults with disabilities with education and tools to help them better manage chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease. More than 383,000 individuals have participated in these impactful interventions since 2010. The most common chronic condition reported by program participants is hypertension (41%), and one-third of participants reported having high cholesterol. Further, 13% of participants reported a diagnosis of heart disease, and 5% indicated having had a stroke.
Finally, the Carter Burden Network, one of ACL’s Innovations in Nutrition Programs and Services grantees, is addressing the high cardiovascular risk of uncontrolled hypertension among older adults by testing a multi-component intervention that includes the DASH Eating Plan.