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Health

AMA President-Elect Shares Message of Preventing Cardiovascular Disease

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A major effort is underway by the Centers of Disease Control and the American Medical Association to prevent cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke.

Dr. David Barbe, president elect of the AMA, recently was  part of a public health collaboration that hosted a conference for healthcare providers in Springfield.

According to Barbe, the CDC is behind what’s called the Million Hearts Initiative.  The AMA’s strategic plan focuses on the same health issues but also on helping prevent the progression of pre-diabetes.

He said their approach is two-pronged:  One is to raise public awareness of the risk of cardiovascular disease and the role that uncontrolled hypertension plays in that.

"That is, uncontrolled hypertension substantially raises your risk of heart attack or stroke," he said.

The other prong that both the AMA and Million Hearts are working on focuses on healthcare providers.

"Educating physicians, reminding physicians that we need to take blood pressure seriously.  We need to be more aggressive in our recommendations to patients," he said.

According to Barbe, there’s “a tremendous opportunity to save money in the healthcare system” by reducing cardiovascular disease.  But he said the effort is more about saving lives.

"Yes, the economic impact is significant.  But the impact on the health of our friends and our neighbors and our family is even greater," said Barbe.

Dr. Barbe said knowing your numbers is key.  For example, he said every rise of 20 points in the top number of a person’s blood pressure doubles their risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

"On the other hand, if you come into the doctor's office and your blood pressure is 40 points high--that would be about 180 on the top number and we, through careful management and partnership with the patient--the doctor and the patient together--can bring down the blood pressure to the proper range, that reduces their risk of heart attack or stroke by 75 percent," he said.

According to Barbe, people need to know what their blood pressure is, and if it’s high, talk to their doctor about taking steps to control it. 

The tragedy, according to Barbe, is that there are many people who don’t know they have high blood pressure or they know it but aren’t doing anything about it. 

The goal of the Million Hearts Initiative is to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. by 2017.  In Missouri, the goal is to prevent 20,000 heart attacks and strokes by that time.

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