Science Inventory

Preventing Heart Attacks and Strokes: Increasing Awareness of the Adverse Cardiovascular Health Impacts of Air Pollution


Cascio, W., J. Wright, S. Katz, G. Robarge, J. Benforado, S. Deflorio-Barker, D. Lobdell, AND S. Stone. Preventing Heart Attacks and Strokes: Increasing Awareness of the Adverse Cardiovascular Health Impacts of Air Pollution. National Assoc.of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA, July 11 - 13, 2017.


Impact statement: The incorporation of the environmental health messaging of EPA’s Healthy Heart program to increase awareness among individuals at higher risk from the adverse effects of air particle pollution into the goals of HHS’ Million Hearts Initiative was highlighted. The presentation afforded an opportunity for the attendees of NACCHO to learn more about the application of environmental science observations for public health efforts to reduce heart disease and stroke. Following the presentation a sharp increase in the number of attendees requesting more information on ORD’s tools and resources was noted at the ORD’s booth and increased interest was attributed to the presentation.


Summary: Chronic cardiovascular disease imposes a significant health and economic burden on individuals and communities. Despite decades of improvement in cardiovascular mortality, cardiovascular disease and stroke remain the leading cause of death in the U.S. and disparities in health outcomes persist. Moreover, the continuous improvement in cardiovascular mortality typical of the last four decades has ended motivating new and innovative approaches to improve population health and wellbeing. Apart from continued focus on traditional risk factor modification such as identification and treatment of high blood pressure and cholesterol, cessation of smoking, and appropriate use of evidence-based pharmacological prevention measures and disease management, other factors should be considered such as increasing physical activity, dietary sodium reduction and modification of social and environmental determinants known to cause heart attacks and stroke and exacerbate vascular disease. Such an approach will require greater cooperation among public health, environmental health, the broader public and private healthcare delivery and payment systems, and federal agencies. To introduce this concept the U.S. EPA held a workshop in September 2016 bringing together representatives of local and state public health officials, the healthcare system, educators, data analytics, and federal partners (CMS, CDC, Dept. of State and EPA) for the purpose of exploring the idea of promoting the use of environmental data and tools to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Short-term exposure to ambient air particle pollution triggers heart attacks, strokes and some arrhythmias, and worsens heart failure. The concept builds on an established relationship between the US EPA and Million Hearts® the joint CDC/CMS initiative to decrease heart attacks and strokes. EPA’s Healthy Hearts program has sought to raise the awareness among individuals with established heart disease to limit exposure through the use of the Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI reports daily air quality and is a widely available tool to inform the public of the levels of air pollution, possible health effects and actions that can be taken to lower exposures. Guidance is readily available on for at-risk populations and the public. The presentation will provide an overview of the concept and opportunities to more actively coordinate messaging among these influential organizations.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 07/12/2017
Record Last Revised: 08/21/2017
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 337300