Boosting 5 Preventive Services Would Save 100,000 Lives Each Year

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Increasing the use of just five preventive services would save more than 100,000 lives every year in the US.

That includes 45,000 lives that would be saved each year if more adults took a daily low-dose aspirin to prevent heart disease.

The new study, funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the WellPoint Foundation, found that a few measures-such as more adults getting flu shots and being screened for cancer-could save tens of thousands of lives each year in the United States.

The study found serious deficiencies in the use of preventive care for the nation as a whole -- and particularly troubling shortfalls among racial and ethnic populations.

"A lot of Americans are not getting live-saving preventive services, particularly racial and ethnic minorities. As a result, too many people are dying prematurely or living with diseases that could have been prevented," said Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH, Chair of the National Commission on Prevention Priorities, a blue-ribbon panel convened by Partnership for Prevention to guide the study. "We could get much better value for our health care dollar by focusing upstream on prevention."

STUDY FINDINGS

-- 45,000 additional lives would be saved each year if we increased to 90 percent the portion of adults who take aspirin daily to prevent heart disease. Today, fewer than half of American adults take aspirin preventively.

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-- 42,000 additional lives would be saved each year if we increased to 90 percent the portion of smokers who are advised by a health professional to quit and are offered medication or other assistance. Today, only 28 percent of smokers receive such services.

-- 14,000 additional lives would be saved each year if we increased to 90 percent the portion of adults age 50 and older who are up to date with any recommended screening for colorectal cancer. Today, fewer than 50 percent of adults are up to date with screening.

-- 12,000 additional lives would be saved each year if we increased to 90 percent the portion of adults age 50 and older immunized against influenza annually. Today, 37 percent of adults have had an annual flu vaccination.

-- Nearly 4,000 additional lives would be saved each year if we increased to 90 percent the portion of women age 40 and older who have been screened for breast cancer in the past 2 years. Today, 67 percent of women have been screened in the past 2 years.

-- 30,000 cases of pelvic inflammatory disease would be preventedannually if we increased to 90 percent the portion of sexually active young women who have been screened in the past year for chlamydial infection. Today, 40 percent of young women are being screened annually.

"This report illustrates that the health benefits would be great if more people took preventive actions," said Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "More illnesses would be avoided, fewer lives would be lost, and there would be more efficient use of our limited health care resources. It's important that all of us make a concerted attempt to focus our energies and efforts on preventing diseases, not just treating them."

MINORITIES AT MAJOR RISK

According to the new report, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans all use preventive services at lower rates compared to the white, non-Hispanic population in the U.S.

-- Hispanic Americans have lower utilization compared to non-Hispanic whites and African Americans for 10 of the 11 preventive services analyzed.

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