Cardiovascular disease, or a range of conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels, can lead to heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Every year, about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack – and of those, 525,000 are experiencing the condition for the first time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., with more than 614,000 people dying annually. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death, with an average of one American dying every four minutes from stroke.
In an effort to reduce these statistics and their physical, emotional, social and financial impacts on people, the Department of Health and Human Services has launched the “Million Hearts” Initiative. By this year, the national initiative has the ambitious goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes by implementing evidence-based interventions.
Lompoc Valley Medical Center is participating in the Million Hearts Initiative and has included the effort as one of the center’s activities in the Public Hospital Redesign and Incentives in Medi-Cal program, or the PRIME program.
The PRIME program began in January 2016 and is a five-year effort. The first 18 months is set aside for preparing the infrastructure for the program.
The Million Hearts Initiative will be implemented in LVMC’s outpatient primary care clinic, now called LVMC Physician Services, located at 136 N. 3rd St.
This is an important healthcare offering for our community, in particular because heart disease is the leading cause of death in Santa Barbara County, according to the latest statistics available. It is also a high death risk factor for Caucasians and Hispanics.
The program will initially begin with a collection of baseline data with quality measures that are positively associated with the reduction of heart attacks and strokes with the use of evidence-based practices. Throughout the progression time for the program, LVMC will be implementing the Million Hearts Initiative into primary care services by providing education and conducting process improvements.
The efforts include focusing on patients using aspirin when appropriate; control of blood pressure levels; cholesterol management and smoking cessation.
LVMC is also taking an integrative approach, and will implement obesity prevention efforts alongside the Million Hearts Initiative. Obesity is a known precursor for cardiovascular disease.
During the Million Hearts Initiative effort, LVMC will partner with agencies to identify patients with heart conditions who have frequent emergency department visits and a history of non-compliance with their treatment regimen. By using the Million Hearts Initiative to target specific populations, LVMC expects to reduce the chances of developing adverse outcomes associated with cardiovascular disease and to increase earlier detection of patients with heart disease. LVMC also aims to reduce race, ethnic and language disparities associated with heart disease. LVMC envisions that early recognition and mitigation of risk factors will decrease the number of avoidable emergency department visits and hospital readmissions in addition to reducing the number of deaths per year.