A Few Preventive Health Services Could Save Many Lives

Cardiovascular disease preventive services especially could improve population health
By Lindsey Marcellin
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Increased use of a few proven clinical preventive services, especially those aimed at reducing cardiovascular disease, could result in substantial improvements in health on a population-wide level, according to a study published online May 4 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Thomas A. Farley, M.D., of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans (currently at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene), and colleagues developed two models to estimate the number of deaths per year which could be potentially prevented by increasing the use of nine clinical preventive services. One model estimated preventable deaths from all causes; the other estimated preventable deaths from certain categories of causes.

The researchers found that both models predicted that a large number of deaths would be prevented by increased use of preventive clinical services, with the greatest effect seen with use of cardiovascular preventive services. For example, all-cause mortality was predicted to decrease by 14,000 deaths in those younger than 80, per year for every 10 percent increase in hypertension treatment, whereas a 10 percent increase in treatment of elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or aspirin prophylaxis was predicted to result in 8,000 fewer deaths per year in those younger than 80 years of age. The two models suggest that, in those under age 80, optimal use of all recommended preventive services would result in 50,000 to 100,000 fewer deaths per year, and in those under 65, 25,000 to 40,000 fewer deaths per year.

"Primary care needs to be more accessible, and these services should be given higher priority by clinicians, quality officers, and health care systems. In particular, electronic record systems that identify patients at risk and generate automated reminders for clinicians and patients, in combination with changes in practice workflow and reimbursement structures, have the potential to increase utilization of these preventive services and should be used more widely," the authors conclude.

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