As the population ages, the prevalence of cardiovascular disease continues to increase. Mortality rates have dropped but the number of people with comorbidities remains on the rise. In fact, nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes and it is estimated that 79 million are at risk for developing diabetes. While medical therapy and innovative technologies have helped patients, the current focus should be on the prevention of these diseases and comorbidities.
Earlier this month it was estimated that implementing a community-based lifestyle intervention program could help prevent 885,000 cases of type 2 diabetes, and help reduce overall expenditures. The authors estimated that the U.S. could save $5.7 billion over the next 25 years.
Researchers from Northwestern released eye-opening data this week that showed having two or more elevated risk factors (i.e., high cholesterol and high blood pressure, etc.) can increase a patient’s chance to having a CV event by nearly 50 percent. Middle age patients (i.e., a 40-year old man) would have less than a 2 percent chance of experiencing a CV event through age 80 if they maintained optimal risk-factor levels. However, a 40-year old man with two or more elevated risk factors would have a nearly 50 percent chance of experiencing a CV event through age 80.
Rather than focusing on the most effective medical therapies or strategies to reduce a patient’s risk of stroke, a better focus may begin with looking at preventive measures to thwart these types of events. One way is educating patients on lifestyle changes. If younger patients were educated on the importance of maintaining optimal weight, blood pressure and cholesterol and followed the recommendations, the disease burden could be “abolished,” the study’s investigator told Cardiovascular Business.
Focusing on preventive medicine as a solution, a study this week in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that many patients who visit their primary care physician for annual checkups do not receive recommended screening tests that could help prevent disease.
In fact, Elston Lafata et al found that almost 50 percent of due services were missed during these exams. However, delivery rates for hypertension screening were 92 percent, yet only 18.9 percent of patients were counseled about aspirin use. The researchers said that health IT could help physicians better deliver these types of services during routine checkups.
What can be done to shrink the cardiovascular disease burden? How can patients prevent rather than provoke disease? Email me and let me know what you think is the best strategy.
Cardiovascular Business, associate editor