Pharmacists Join CDC Team to Fight Rising Blood Pressure

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

What with the economy, upcoming presidential elections, and several of our news stories this week, its no wonder Americans’ blood pressure is up. But it’s no excuse either, given that nearly one in three American adults has high blood pressure, and more than half don’t have it under control. It’s a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and the first and fourth leading causes of death in the United States, leading to nearly 1,000 deaths a day, and costing the United States almost $131 billion annually, CDC officials say.

To counter these alarming statistics, CDC has joined forces with pharmacists and is launching a care team initiative to help patients control their blood pressure. Customers at drugstores around the nation will receive informational materials, including wallet cards to track medication use and educational videos.

More news to raise blood pressure: nearly one third of America’s healthcare spending in 2009 – roughly $750 billion – was wasted on unnecessary services, excessive administrative costs, and fraud, among other problems, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Such inefficiencies are hindering progress and threatening the nation’s economic stability and global competitiveness, says the IOM. But there are ways to repair the system, as suggested in one report recommendation: mobile technologies and EHRs can help professionals to capture and share health data better. Others are detailed in our story.

And still more news to keep that pressure up: the United States performs worse than France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, according to a Commonwealth Fund–supported study published in Health Affairs. Between 1999 and 2006 to 2007, the overall potentially preventable death rate among men ages 0 to 74 dropped by only 18.5 percent in the United States, while the rate declined by nearly 37 percent in the United Kingdom. For women, the rate fell by 17.5 percent in the United States but by nearly 32 percent in the United Kingdom.

But there is some news to slow Americans’ pulse: results from a multi-year accountable care collaborative program between Aetna and NovaHealth, an IPA, show significant improvements in quality of care and lowered healthcare costs, Aetna reports.

Read all of these stories in their entirety in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

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