Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Could Reduce Heart Attacks

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Prevention efforts that include proven methods for reducing cardiovascular disease could reduce heart attacks by 36% and strokes by 20% over the next three decades, according to a report published online Monday in the journal Circulation, the Oakland Tribune reports (Bohan, Oakland Tribune, 7/7). The report -- jointly released by the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association -- was based on a mathematical model that used data from a national survey of health and nutrition to project the effects of prevention on the U.S. population over 30 years (Steenhuysen, Reuters/New York Post, 7/8).

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Among the 11 proven preventive methods researchers considered were weight loss, smoking cessation, cholesterol-lowering medications and aspirin therapy. According to the report, nearly 80% of U.S. residents ages 20 to 80 would benefit from at least one of the prevention activities (Oakland Tribune, 7/7). Rose Marie Robertson, AHA chief science officer and study co-author, said, "If every individual achieved 100% adherence with all the clinical prevention activities for which they are candidates, then heart attacks would decrease about 63% and strokes about 31% in the next three decades." In addition, if followed, the 11 preventive measures could increase life expectancy by an average of 1.3 years per person. However, researchers acknowledged that 100% adherence to the prevention methods was unlikely. Under more realistic conditions, "heart attacks would drop by 36% and strokes by 20% in the same period," Robertson said (Reuters/New York Post, 7/8).

According to the report, the cost of the prevention methods would be substantial, but the focus on prevention would result in lower treatment costs. The report stated that policymakers must focus more on prevention in considering an overhaul of the U.S. health care system. "Our current health care system is not optimally designed to promote health or prevent illness," Robertson said. The three health organizations are conducting a similar analysis on the benefits of preventive measures for cancer (Oakland Tribune, 7/7).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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