Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is a national epidemic, causing the deaths of 2,300 Americans each day. February is American Heart Month and an apt time for hospitals to take a fresh look at cardiovascular disease risks. Healthcare professionals have an important role in not only identifying standard CVD risks, but also by ensuring patients are aware of, and appreciate, their own individual risks through effective patient engagement and an understanding of psychographic segmentation.
5 Things Hospitals Need to Know About Cardiovascular Disease Risks
1. The impact of the economic recession on the cardiovascular health of African-American teens
The American Heart Association reports that the health of certain African-American teens were particularly affected five years after the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Teens in the rural Southeast whose families suffered economically from the recession showed higher rates of metabolic syndrome—a grouping of disorders which include abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
The recent study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, also revealed that overall 13.8 percent of African American children have high blood pressure, compared to only 8.4 percent of white children. High blood pressure in youth increases the likelihood of high blood pressure throughout the individual’s life.
Obesity rates are also higher among both African-American children and adults when compared to the white population. For example, 20 percent of African-American children 2 to 19 years of age are obese, versus 15 percent of white children.
2. New public health initiatives for African Americans
Approximately 26 percent of African Americans live in poverty, compared to 15 percent of the entire population, according to this study by AHA. Unique stressors are a key culprit of the disparities between races.
“Although most people experience stress from jobs and major life events, African Americans are more likely to have persistent economic stress and to face concerns about maintaining their health, including preventing weight gain and managing chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes,” said Mercedes Carnethon, Ph.D., the writing group chair and associate professor of preventive medicine (epidemiology) at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.
New public initiatives are key to bridging the gap and reducing those statistics. Researchers point out that public health initiatives could make the overall environment healthier for high-risk individuals. For example, creating safe spaces for physical activity, establishing smoke-free restaurants and public spaces, menu labeling and more.
3. The cardiovascular impact of individuals living in food deserts
A “food desert” is defined by the USDA as a location with low access to healthy food in addition to an overall low income. An estimated 23.5 million people live in food deserts across the United States and the cardiovascular effects are dire.
The study was intensive: researchers scrutinized metabolic profiles, demographic data, and early signs of CVD including markers for inflammation and stiffness of the arteries. They discovered that individuals living in food deserts—13.2 percent—had a higher prevalence of smoking, high blood pressure and higher body mass index when compared to those not living in food deserts.
A new, larger study will be conducted to confirm that low income contributes to early heart disease and/or a higher mortality from heart disease.
4. New high blood pressure guidelines
In 2017, the American Academy of Pediatrics altered the process of measuring children and teens’ blood pressure. The new guidelines utilize a simple table that uses a child’s age and gender to determine if their blood pressure is “normal” or not.
Additionally, the AHA and American College of Cardiology published new guidelines for adults—marking the first time the guidelines had been changed in 14 years. In the past, hypertension was defined as 140/90. The new guidelines define hypertension as 130/80.
The study found that 46 percent of U.S. adults have high blood pressure.
5. Healthcare consequences of CVD
About 1 of every 6 healthcare dollars is spent on Cardiovascular Disease, making CVD one of the most costly health issues in America. For example, according to a published report from Northwestern University, heart disease is responsible for 17 percent of national health expenditures. Heart disease and stroke cost an estimated $316.6 billion in medical costs and lost productivity—in 2011 alone.
As the population ages, costs related to CVD are expected to rise significantly. Cardiovascular Disease continues to deplete resources long after a cardiovascular event has occurred. Patients who have experienced a heart attack have a propensity to suffer from depression, fatigue, and an overall lower quality of life—and as a result, those patients often require more follow-up healthcare.
Identifying a patient’s unique CVD risks earlier will in turn cut back on readmission rates and overall healthcare costs. Communication is a key part of the relationship between hospitals, patients and the general public.
How Psychographic Segmentation and Digital Patient Engagement Can Help
Patient engagement platforms, such as PatientBond, provide hospitals with automated, digital patient communication. The method of communication and messaging are tailored to each individual through the use of psychographic segmentation and allows for precision engagement among patients.
What works for one patient doesn’t necessarily work for another, and that’s where psychographic segmentation becomes an invaluable resource. Psychographics pertain to patients’ values, attitudes, lifestyles and personalities and are the core to their intrinsic motivations. Messaging designed to resonate with these motivations have a greatly enhanced likelihood of activating desired health behaviors.
PatientBond worked with a major health system in Tennessee to reduce 30-day readmissions for congestive heart failure (CHF). PatientBond engaged patients with the health system’s approved clinical information and patient education, but personalized it with psychographic messaging across multiple waves of communications over 30 days, via emails, texts and Interactive Voice Response. Because the health system’s service area included rural Appalachia, where patients may not have smartphones or access to certain forms of technology, the PatientBond platform recognized flip-phones and adjusted accordingly.
After five months and more than 300 CHF discharges, the 30-day readmission rate was reduced from 18.5 percent to under 2 percent, a greater than 90 percent difference. Moreover, 94 percent of participating patients indicated satisfaction with the digital engagement process.
Hospitals are brimming with detailed patient data. By utilizing that data in concert with PatientBond’s cloud-based platform, patients will receive better post-discharge support. In turn, hospitals experience lower readmissions and healthcare costs are saved. Find out how digital communications can lower hospital readmissions here.