Posted on Nov 20, 2013

USF College of Nursing helps prevent heart disease and strokes

USF College of Nursing helps prevent heart disease and strokes

University of South Florida College of Nursing has made great strides in helping to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in the United States by 2017. More than 200 nursing students have helped make a difference in population health through the Million Hearts initiative.

USF College of Nursing, under the leadership of Debra A. Friedrich, DNP, ARNP, FNP-C, CLS, FNLA, assistant professor and Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) concentration director, joined Million Hearts in 2012 in partnership with organizations and universities across the country to educate and train nursing students to empower ten patients to make healthy choices.

Million Hearts-college of nursing

“We have introduced this program in both undergraduate and graduate programs, and we have had an excellent response,” Dr. Friedrich said. “So far, we have had a 100 percent participation. Each student has interviewed and educated ten patients on the risk associated with heart disease and the importance of prevention.”

Million Heartsa public-private initiative launched by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2011, focuses on improving care for people suffering from heart disease through the “ABCS” method. ABCS is a technique that addresses the major risk factors of cardiovascular disease and helps prevent heart attacks and strokes. The ABCS method stands for; Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation. To accomplish this goal, the students complete a four-hour Million Hearts educational module, which is available online and free of charge.

“Upon completion, students login in the educational module and enter data on the ten people in their clinical setting for whom they conduct Million Hearts screening and/or education for, which allow the college to document the outcomes achieved through this initiative” Dr. Friedrich said. “This module is intended to help students learn about how they can impact the population suffering from the disease through Million Hearts and assist HHS in preventing one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.”

“I screened 10 people, and it felt great,” said Sommer George, a USF College of Nursing student who participated in the Million Hearts Initiative. “It was very fulfilling to know that I contributed to better wellness in the individuals’ health, not only by screening the patients but also by increasing their awareness about heart disease prevention and empowering them to take control of their heart health.”

According to HHS, there are more than two million heart attacks and strokes in the United States, and more than 2,000 deaths from the disease each year. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is responsible for one in every three deaths every year, and represents 70 percent of the national healthcare spending, the HHS website states.

“From the beginning, our goal here at USF College of Nursing is to help improve care for people who need treatment by encouraging a targeted focus on “ABCSs,” Dr. Friedrich said. “This is an outstanding service learning project for students and could be built into a course requirement to teach them about how to improve population health.”

To learn about Million Hearts initiative visit To learn about the Educational Module click here.

For related stories on the USF College of Nursing involvement in Million Hearts click here.