Good news for the heart: Top cardiac advances and initiatives

As I discussed in part 1 of this two-part blog, the annual February observance of American Heart Month is a perfect time for providers, patients and payers alike to be reminded of things that can improve our chances of avoiding the country’s leading killer — cardiovascular disease or CVD.

Certainly, consistently taking the right medicines and supplements in the right combination is an important factor, and one in which I and our other RxLive clinical pharmacists enjoy playing what we hope is a valuable role on providers’ extended care team. But there are many other factors — some being validated every day — that offer additional new options for preventing and treating CVD.

Top heart and stroke advances

An annual recap that gives me continued hope in the fight against the impact of CVD highlights what the American Heart Association and other leading health organizations consider the annual top heart disease and stroke research advances.

With the time lag of research and publishing, the most recent one covers 2018. Among the report’s recognitions are:

A patient’s genetic background is critically important to how he or she is likely to be impacted — good and bad — by prescriptions and OTC supplements. That’s why RxLive offers pharmacogenomic testing (PGx for short) as an increasingly valuable tool to guide medication decision-making.

  • Cholesterol-reducing drug therapies to combat future CV risk (adding a PCSK9 inhibitor to statin therapy, and giving a triglyceride-lowering drug to cut the risk of having or dying from a heart attack, stroke or other heart-related problem by 25%). Both were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
  • Medicine’s potential to combat rare, fatal disease — A study for a potential drug therapy that showed a drug lowered the risk of death by 30% of patients with transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy, a rare, fatal condition currently without any approved drug therapies.

Living healthier, longer lives: Goals for the decade ahead

Cardiovascular diseases and stroke remain major threats to the public health of every nation and are expected to increase over the next 10 years. Many of the key metrics in the Heart Association’s 2010 goal were achieved early, including exceeding a 25% reduction in deaths from cardiac disease and stroke.

The just-released 2030 Impact Goals are even more ambitious: extending healthy life expectancy for people across the globe by 2030. You see, CVD isn’t “merely” the leading cause of death in America…it’s also the number-one cause of death worldwide.

“Healthy life expectancy” means a person’s expected years of life in good health, so it reflects both quantity and health-related quality of life. By equitably increasing healthy life expectancy in the U.S. alone by just two years, Americans across our diverse population groups can enjoy some 800 million additional years of healthy life.

U.S. Impact Goals call for improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% while continuing to decrease deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20%. There are ambitious collaborative goals worldwide as well.

By expanding primary and secondary disease prevention initiatives, public health policies and lifestyle behavioral improvement, the Heart Association targets are:

  • U.S. Impact Goal — Equitably increasing healthy life expectancy across the U.S. from 66 to at least 68 years by 2030. Here’s some of the Heart Association’s methods to help accomplish that, along with some links you can pass along to your colleagues and patients:
  • Global Impact Goal — Working together with other organizations, equitably increasing global healthy life expectancy from 64 to at least 67 years by 2030. It’s worth noting that:
    • Nearly 60 nations representing 2.4 billion people (or 35% of the global population) have healthy life expectancies below 60 years.
    • A difference of 14 years of healthy life exists between nations in the top 25% and the lowest 25% of healthy life expectancy.
    • About 20% of the 2017 global burden of disease — both from years of life lost due to premature death and from years lived with a disability — involved children less than 5 years old, almost all of whom were in low- and middle-income countries.
    • At least 80% of the world’s smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.

Encourage patients to stick to Life’s Simple 7

The AHA’s Life’s Simple 7 encompass the 7 key health factors aimed at achieving these health goals for your patient population, the nation and across the globe as a whole. It’s yet another tool to help you as a provider paint the broader picture of the devastating impact of cardiovascular disease and the many ways they can work with us as clinical professionals to improve their healthy life expectancy.

For the health of your heart and that of your patients, we hope this second of a two-part Heart Month 2020 recap has been useful. As always, let the RxLive team of clinical pharmacists know if we can be of service to your cardiac and other patients.

Kristen Engelen, PharmD
Kristen Engelen, PharmD, is the chief pharmacy officer of RxLive and a certified consultant pharmacist; she has over a decade of experience in retail pharmacy settings. Kristen became an RxLive co-founder because of her passion for geriatric pharmacy, with a focus on the intersection of pharmacy and aging.