Sunday, September 23, 2012

Non-Scientific Medicine: The Human Cost


In the June 15, 2009 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology, a study was published entitled "Potential Reductions in United States Coronary Heart Disease Mortality by Treating More Patients" by Capewell et al. It concluded that in 2000, the treatment levels in the US were generally poor and that if 60% of eligible patients received appropriate therapies, there would have been 297,470 fewer deaths in the US. More secondary prevention would have resulted in 30% fewer deaths, more primary prevention - 15% fewer and more stents/heart bypass - only 1% fewer. The study did not calculate the healthcare cost associated with these events and the total number of deaths that could have been prevented from 2000 to 2008.
After 20 years since the first NCEP ATP treatment guidelines were published, many high risk Americans are still not receiving lifesaving recommended treatment. In 2009, the Get With The Guidelines (Am Heart J. 2009 Jan;157(1):111-117.e2. Epub 2008 Oct 22)showed that only 21% of patients who presented in the emergency room with acute coronary syndrome were receiving lipid therapy.
A jumbo jet crashed killing all passengers gets a tremendous coverage for days that such horrific event deserves. But how is that different from the fact that everyday in the US, 5,479 fall victims to preventable heart attacks and strokes, of whom 2,196 die. And each day, the economic toll is $1.3 billion. How come no one talks about it? It is time to have a national effort to solve it. The Department of Human Services 2000 initiative called Healthier USA 2010 was a complete failure. 2010 to 2010 is the lost decade in heart attack and stroke prevention.
The Million Hearts Initiative is a new solution. We support and promote this initiative. It is important that it succeeds.

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