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Program Cuts Heart Risk Factors in Medically Underserved

'Heart Disease on the Mend' project reduces blood pressure, cholesterol levels and has high patient retention

FRIDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- A disease management program for low-income, medically underserved patients has been shown to lower cardiovascular risk factors and retain most study patients during a one-year follow-up, researchers report in the Dec. 1 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

William Haskell, Ph.D., of Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., evaluated a disease management approach to multifactorial cardiovascular disease risk reduction in low-income patients with limited or no health insurance. The "Heart Disease on the Mend" project included lifestyle guidance and medications delivered by nurses and dietitians, and supervised by a physician.

Patients randomized to the disease management program showed clinically relevant reductions in systolic blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol during six and 12 month follow-ups, compared with usual care. The management program had a high rate of retention, with 91 percent of patients available at 12 months, and moved many "high-risk" and "very high-risk" patients to lower categories.

"The disease management program had excellent retention and lower cardiovascular disease risk factors and demonstrated the potential of such approaches for decreasing long-term disease burden in selected medically underserved populations," the authors conclude.

Pharmaceutical support was provided by Merck & Co.; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; Kos Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Abbott Laboratories; and SmithKline Beecham.

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