CDC Foundation Launches “Live to the Beat”: To Fight Cardiovascular Disease in Black Community

The CDC Foundation launches a new campaign, “Live to the Beat,” to help address cardiovascular disease in Black adults in the United States, who die from heart disease at a rate two times higher than their White counterparts and whose risk of death from stroke is even greater. “Live to the Beat” launches during American Heart Month and Black History Month—a month that also marks two years of the pandemic that has shined a light on health inequities that place Black adults at higher risk of COVID-19 and other major health issues, including heart disease.

Photo by Gabby K on Pexels.com

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death for people of most racial and ethnic groups, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Deaths from heart disease and stroke have increased during the pandemic, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Furthermore, CVD is the number one contributor to all racial disparities in life expectancy, which makes cardiovascular health a priority for CDC and the CDC Foundation to address disparities in health outcomes.

Created to support the Million Hearts® initiative, “Live to the Beat” aims to reduce CVD risk among Black adults ages 35–54 with a focus on moving more, eating better, quitting smoking and addressing key risk factors like hypertension, high cholesterol and high blood sugar. To inform the campaign, the CDC Foundation commissioned a national survey of 3,000 U.S. adults that found most adults, including most Black adults, are now both aware of the threat of CVD and knowledgeable about how to prevent it. However, the same survey found that, compared to other racial or ethnic groups, Black adults were least likely to view heart disease and strokes as preventable (61 percent compared to 76 percent of White adults and 71 percent of Hispanic adults)—revealing an opportunity to focus on increasing confidence in their ability to prevent CVD.

“It’s difficult to accept one condition leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths. But it is especially difficult when those are hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths,” said Lisa Waddell, MD, chief medical officer of the CDC Foundation. “While the statistics point to cause for concern, now we understand the great opportunity we have to empower more Black adults who are at risk for CVD by addressing the beliefs that affect their confidence in their ability to lower their risk—like beliefs that heart disease and stroke are inevitable, that it’s too late to make a difference or that only big changes can have an impact.”

The “Live to the Beat” campaign was also informed by focus groups, including more than 160 Black men and women across the nation. Based on these audience insights, the campaign is centered on: (1) Empathy – acknowledging that barriers to heart-healthy habits are real and the audience is not alone in struggling to make changes; (2) Living—centering messages on how a heart-healthy lifestyle can improve a person’s quality of living, instead of emphasizing the threat of CVD and how it contributes to the risk of dying; and (3) Small Step Solutions—highlighting a variety of paths and specific steps a person can take to lower their CVD risk, one step at a time.

In line with one of the campaign’s messages that encourages moving more, the CDC Foundation will launch with a virtual dance party featuring GRAMMY and American Music Award winner DJ Jazzy Jeff on February 23 at 12 p.m. ET, to get participants “living to the beat.” To join the “Live to the Beat” virtual dance party livestream, visit @LiveToTheBeat on Facebook or @DJJazzyJeff on Facebook or Instagram.

“It’s a heavy thought to know that heart disease impacts the Black community more than any other community, but knowing it is preventable gives me hope,” said DJ Jazzy Jeff. “If I can inspire people through music to move more as a way to improve their heart health, I’m all in.”

The campaign is the latest to be released by the CDC Foundation’s Alliance for Million Hearts®, a public-private coalition to help fuel the Million Hearts® Initiative toward its goal of preventing one million heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events by 2027. Amgen and Bayer are funders for the campaign; the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC), Black Heart Association (BHA), Girl Trek and National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) are community partners.

To learn more about the “Live to the Beat” and steps to take for healthier living, visit LivetoTheBeat.org.

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