While cardiovascular disease causes nearly one-third of deaths in the U.S. every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in its Sept. issue of Vital Signs that at least 200,000 of these deaths can be prevented through lifestyle changes.
As the Affordable Care Act improves access to preventive health care, providers should play a key role in encouraging preventive efforts, the agency argued. Among the steps they can take are:
- Use electronic health records to determine which patients smoke or have other risk factors such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure and support them.
- Undertake efforts to make clinical improvements, such as implementing patient care teams, by using national quality indicators.
- Encourage patients to make lifestyle changes and monitor their efforts.
- Make anti-hypertensive and cholesterol-lowering medications more affordable by lowering or eliminating co-payments.
- Offer patients information about available community resources that will, for example, help them quit smoking or monitor their blood pressure.
- Help patients get information about where to get affordable health insurance.
The full issue of Vital Signs, with more information on heart disease and stroke, can be read here.