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Sacred Heart Joins The Million Hearts Initiative

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 Sacred Heart Medical Group has been approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to participate in a new program called the Million Hearts Initiative, part of a nationwide initiative to prevent one-million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Dr. Andrew Henson, a family physician at Sacred Heart Medical Group in Pace, shared information about the progarm. You can learn more about the program at millionhearts.hhs.gov.

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This is Bob & Dr. Henson's full conversation

  • The Million Hearts initiative is a program that focuses on preventive treatments to monitor the health of participants and and shield them from heart attack and stroke. They hope the get patients on the right medicines and get the right tests done to hopefully prevent over a million heart attacks and strokes nationwide by the end of 2017.
  • Heart disease is no long a disease of upper or middle aged, stressed out men. Women and younger people are also developing heart disease. This is because of the American diet, stress, obesity and lack of exercise. 
  • Sacred Heart Medical group is one of the newest participants in the nationwide program. It was approved recently and they are now looking for patients to target for the program once it begins in earnest later this year. Family physicians like Dr. Henson will be the gatekeepers of the initiative.
  • This is a data-driven approach to health care. Sacred heart will take a patients test results such as cholesterol numbers and put them into a calculator developed by the American Heart Association. This will allow them to calculate the risk of each patient developing heart disease. Dr. Henson says "We're actually able to tell you what your risk of heart attack or stroke is in the next 10 years , and in some cases over the course of your lifetime. For us that's been really powerful because telling someone 'your LDL, or bad cholesterol is 170' might not mean much. Telling somebody 'your risk of having a heart attack in the next 10 years is 30%' is a lot more powerful."
  • This program is only open to Medicare patients between the ages of 40 and 70 who have not developed heart disease. There is no cost to the patient. Sacred Heart, and all the institutions nationwide who participate in the initiative get paid not by procedures, but by results. He says that means that "everyone has some skin in the game," from the doctor to the patients to the health care institution.