February is American Heart Month, when we raise awareness of heart disease, and today is Valentine's Day, a perfect time to talk about hearts. Heart Disease is the nation's No. 1 killer and the second leading cause of death in Oregon. The tragedy of heart disease has touched too many of our lives, but the good news is that it is preventable and controllable. So today, let's think about what we can do take care of our own hearts and those of our friends, families and the people we serve.
A major priority of OHA's Public Health Division is preventing or reducing heart disease, as well as stroke, and increasing survivability. By using proven community-wide prevention approaches, we can address risk factors long before chronic diseases develop. We can prevent and reduce heart disease by changing policies, our environments, and the systems in which we live, work and play. By emphasizing good self-management and evidence-based health care, we can encourage people with heart disease to avoid complications that lead to hospital stays.
Coordinated care organizations (CCOs) – and their team-focused, patient-centered care – also play an important role in the fight against heart disease in Oregon. CCOs help people get the care they need to prevent and manage heart disease and address the chronic conditions that often accompany it such as diabetes, obesity, smoking and inactivity. And we're already starting to see a difference. The most recent quarterly report showed CCOs had reduced hospital admissions for congestive heart failure by 32 percent from the 2011 baseline.
This is a significant achievement. We know that helping Oregonians avoid hospital stays improves the patient experience and overall health outcomes. It also reduces costs – not only for patients, but for everyone in the state. In Oregon, we spend more than $38,000 on each hospitalization due to heart disease. Total medical costs of those hospitalizations top $1.1 billion.
It's also important that we continue our efforts to reach the groups hardest hit by heart disease. We know it affects some communities more than others: Those with less education are twice as likely to have heart disease; African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Native people are twice as likely to have a heart attack in their lifetime compared to non-Latino whites. Focusing our prevention, management and care efforts on these populations can have a huge effect on the incidence of heart disease in this state.
Each one of us has the opportunity to make an impact in the fight against heart disease. We all can eat healthier, get active, quit tobacco if we use it, and better manage our chronic diseases – and we can help the people we love do the same. It may be the best Valentine's Day gift we can give.