giftPeople having trouble finding that perfect gift to give a loved one have an unusual -- and free -- option this holiday season.

Through digital postcards offered through the national Million Hearts initiative, the gift giver can pledge to improve their own health -- so they'll be around a lot longer for their family members and friends.

“Family members worry about loved ones who are at risk for heart disease or stroke,” said Janet Wright, M.D., executive director of Million Hearts. “When someone pledges to learn how to improve their health, we show respect for ourselves and the lives we share with others."

The digital post card is available free on the Internet as well as Facebook and Twitter at

Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, is responsible for 1 of every 3 deaths in the United States. Americans suffer more than 2 million heart attacks and strokes each year, and every day, 2,200 people die from cardiovascular disease.

The goal of Million Hearts is to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes across the United States over five years. One way to do that is for people to learn and improve their ABCS of health. ABCS stands for aspirin, blood pressure control, cholesterol management, and smoking cessation.

Less than half of Americans at highest risk of cardiovascular disease take daily aspirin, less than half with hypertension have it adequately controlled, only a third with high cholesterol have adequate treatment, and less than a quarter of smokers get help to quit. Million Hearts’ goal is to reduce the number of people who need treatment through prevention and improved management of the ABCS. 

“Many people are disabled because of heart disease and stroke, with more than 3 million people across the country reporting serious illness and decreased quality of life,” Wright explained. “Most major risk factors, including blood pressure, are controllable. Greater attention and focus on blood pressure control, by patients and their care teams and families, will dramatically reduce deaths and disability from heart attack and stroke.”

Million Hearts is a public-private initiative launched by the Department of Health and Human Services. More information is available at: