National Consumers League

Good news about heart disease


NCL is the consumer organization behind the groundbreaking Script Your Future campaign, an initiative to get patients to take their medications as directed.  If they do take their prescription medications, they stay out of the hospital and end up healthier, which reduces costs dramatically. Script Your Future focuses on three chronic diseases: diabetes, respiratory, and cardiovascular illness. In the latter category, we have recently learned of some very good news. Though heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States, hospital admissions for patients with heart disease has fallen 30 percent in the last decade, according to a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association. These impressively improved numbers have saved Medicare an estimated $4.1 billion. The reasons behind these results are better prevention and early treatment of high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. Also contributing to these dramatic numbers are reductions in the number of smokers; in the last decade smoking levels have dropped from about 23 percent to 20 percent of Americans. Also, the use of statin drugs to lower cholesterol levels has gone up. This good news comes even amid increased levels of obesity among adults and children in the United States. Public awareness campaigns are not always effective, but in this case, the new data suggest that discouraging smoking and encouraging the use of statins for high cholesterol is having a positive impact.