DALLAS — New prevention guidelines, programs to control blood pressure, getting more people to access cardiac rehab services and a possible link between digestive bacteria and heart disease risk are included in a recap of last year’s top cardiovascular and stroke advances identified by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.
“To become a nation of healthier people who live longer, better quality lives, it’s important to reflect on the progress we’ve made,” said Mariell Jessup, M.D., president of the American Heart Association and medical director of the Penn Heart and Vascular Center and professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. “Medical research answers critical questions we have about cardiovascular disease, raises important new questions and sets the stage for future concepts.”
The association has been compiling an annual list of the top 10 major advances in heart disease and stroke science since 1996. Here are the association’s top scientific advances for 2013:
1. Prevention guidelines
In November, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology published a set of four guidelines on obesity, cholesterol, risk assessment and lifestyle to help patients and physicians prevent more heart attacks and strokes. The guidelines, based on a thorough review of scientific evidence, were completed by the AHA and ACC after being initiated by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in 2008. Highlights:
Obesity requires long-term professional management
Obesity is more than a lifestyle issue, according to the AHA, and patients are more likely to stay on track when guided long-term by a trained professional in a healthcare setting. Losing weight and maintaining weight loss requires eating fewer calories than your body uses, exercising more and changing unhealthy behaviors. This guideline features a roadmap with multiple different approaches to help patients lose weight and keep it off, starting with evaluating every American’s body mass index — a ratio of height to weight. Patients with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese and need treatment and chronic follow-up. In the U.S., nearly 78 million adults are obese.