The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites issues with the U.S. healthcare system as part of the reason for the extent of cardiovascular disease in the country.
In a report released Tuesday, the CDC said two-thirds of adults with high cholesterol and half with hypertension do not receive effective treatment.
“Although we’re making some progress, the United States is failing to prevent the leading cause of death — cardiovascular disease — despite the existence of low-cost, highly effective treatments,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH.
“We need to do a better job improving care and supporting patients to prevent avoidable illness, disability and death.”
For many people, according to the CDC, merely having healthcare coverage is not sufficient.
“More than 80% of people who have out-of-control blood pressure or out-of-control cholesterol do have public or private health insurance,” Frieden said.
One-third of all U.S. adults have hypertension, according to the CDC. Of that segment of the population, one-third do not get treatment and half do not have the condition totally under control.
Another third of all adults have high cholesterol. Half do not get treatment and two-thirds do not have the condition totally under control.
“Policy and system changes” are needed, according to the CDC report, to help ensure more people get the care they need to control cardiovascular disease. Changes should “improve healthcare access, quality of preventive care and patient adherence to treatment.”
Provisions of healthcare reform may help, according to the CDC. The Affordable Care Act allows patients to receive blood pressure and cholesterol screenings with no cost sharing. Electronic health records with registry and reminder functions could improve follow-up treatment and management.
The CDC also calls on nurses and other allied health professionals, such as dietitians and pharmacists, to make sure patients adhere to their medications.
To healthcare providers, Frieden said, “Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol is one of, if not the, most important thing you can do for your patient.”