Study supports healthcare reform

A joint report of three major healthcare organizations has found that prevention activities such as smoking cessation and lowering cholesterol clearly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading risk of death for people in the U.S. and people with diabetes.
If all patients received consistently aggressive treatment, heart attacks would decrease about 63 percent and strokes about 31 percent in the next three decades. For this to happen, hospitals would need to reform some of their programs.
Scientists used a sophisticated mathematical model called Archimedes to determine the effects of 11 popular preventative services. About 78 percent of U.S. adults aged 20 to 80 are eligible for at least one of the services, yet the study found that treatment could reduce the mortality rate if applied on a larger scale.
“The American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association have joined forces to look at clinical prevention and its impact because, although we represent different health conditions, the same prevention strategies that can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, also could reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer,” said Rose Marie Robertson, M.D., chief science officer of the American Heart Association and co-author of the report.
“However, our current healthcare system is not optimally designed to promote health or prevent illness,” Robertson said. “The lesson from these findings is that we need a system in which we can apply these interventions in a way that is efficient and cost effective. The benefits are too important to be ignored. A healthier, more productive society is good for us all.”
Although the report focused on CVD, future reports will encompass the impact of these and other services on reducing the risk of morbidity and mortality from CVD diabetes and cancer.
The impact of the 11 treatments varied widely on health outcomes and direct medical costs extrapolated over 30 years. Results suggest that some prevention programs are “better buys” than others in terms of cost effectiveness.
“This research has important implications for the work our three organizations are doing to broaden access to care, including preventive services, and to promote the role of prevention in the national debate on healthcare reform,” said Otis W. Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. “We expect that these impressive findings will only grow stronger when we’re able to show the additional impact on reducing the risk of developing and dying from cancer.”
“The Impact of Prevention on Reducing the Burden of Cardiovascular Disease” was co-authored by Robert Smith, Ph.D., of the American Cancer Society and David Eddy, M.D., Ph.D. of Archimedes, Inc. Individual authors are listed on the manuscript.

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