2. Controlling highblood pressure
Although researchers understand the best ways to treat hypertension, many patients do not know they have it, and only half of the 75 percent of patients being treated control it to a healthy level.
One important study showed a dramatic increase in patients whose hypertension was controlled — from 44 percent to more than 87 percent over 10 years — through an evidence-based program implemented by a large healthcare provider. It strongly encouraged lifestyle changes, improved tracking of patient information, simplified drug therapies, made in-office blood pressure checks more accessible, provided doctors more feedback and overall, treated patients according to scientific evidence.
This program also followed other principles recommended by the AHA, including cost considerations, simple approaches and easy-to-understand patient materials.
3. Combatting poorchildhood and earlyadulthood heart healthand its aftermath
Two studies looked at heart health in young people — one used the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 health measures to determine how ideal health affected brain function in middle age. The other evaluated a preschool curriculum’s effect on the health habits of preschoolers and their families.
A study of nearly 3,000 people aged 18-30 over 25 years found that those maintaining ideal health had better brain function in middle life. Each one of the seven health measures — avoiding being overweight or obese, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and being physically active, and keeping total cholesterol, blood pressure, and fasting glucose at goal level — improved cognitive function.
A structured curriculum based on Sesame Street’s Healthy Habits for Life used in Bogota, Columbia improved hundreds of preschoolers’ knowledge, attitudes and heart-healthy habits. The program resulted in a 13 percent improvement in the percentage of children at a healthy weight — from 62 percent to 75 percent.
4. Getting more peopleto cardiac rehabilitation has big results
Following hospitalization for cardiovascular disease, simple changes can greatly increase enrollment and participation in cardiac rehabilitation, and rehabilitation significantly lowered the death rate after heart bypass surgery, according to several 2013 studies. Not enough eligible patients participate in cardiac rehabilitation, despite known benefits, said study authors.