Grassroots FDA partnership aims to reduce heart disease deaths

May 28, 2015

FDA has joined nonprofit National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention to advance the cause of a heart-healthy and stroke-free society in a first-of-its-kind cooperative public education program to reduce the burdens of heart disease and stroke.

FDA has joined nonprofit National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention to advance the cause of a heart-healthy and stroke-free society in a first-of-its-kind cooperative public education program to reduce the burdens of heart disease and stroke.

In the United States only about 1 in every 4 prescriptions is taken as directed by a healthcare provider – a problem that costs our nation more than 125,000 lives a year. Millions of Americans with heart disease – the nation’s No. 1 killer – are especially vulnerable.

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To confront this problem, FDA is taking the lead in support of Million Hearts, a national initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

The National Forum includes more than 80 US and international organizations representing public, private, healthcare, advocacy, academic, policy and community sectors.

Related: Heart-related hospitalizations, deaths reduced due to coordinated care efforts

The goal of the 5-year agreement is to create recommendations to improve compliance with prescribed medical therapies and implement the recommendations to improve the lives of patients living with heart disease.

In addition, the partnership will:

  • Explore, demonstrate and evaluate innovative health promotion concepts.

  • Exchange information on nutrition, heart disease, and ways to increase the number of patients who take their medication and/or therapy.

  • Identify and systematize best practices in behavior modification education.

  • Develop concepts for community-based interventions.

“Any program that focuses on grassroots education is going to take time, but is a great idea,” said Gail Levenson a principal at Buck Consultants at Xerox. “It is imperative that we focus on preventable diseases like heart disease. We need a multitiered strategy since not only do we need to reach out to patients already being managed by physicians, we also need to reach the community to prevent issues before they start.

“People need to understand the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke and what they can do to reduce their risk,” Levenson said. “Education is key, access to healthy foods is key, and access to care is key. I am hopeful that with programs, such as this collaboration, we can increase medication compliance as well as reduce the incidence of heart disease and stroke.”

According to Levenson, more than half of patients who receive a prescription from their physician don’t fill it and “it gets increasingly worse after each refill,” she said. “Medication noncompliance has many causes. I have not seen many programs that drill down and address some of the more common ones. We need that focus more than ever. Obesity has skyrocketed, impacting children and young adults. Children are being diagnosed with hypertension. There is also still a huge disparity to access available healthcare based upon where you live and your socioeconomic class.”

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