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New San Diego County Project Aims To Reduce Heart Attacks, Strokes

Evening Edition

Jasleen Kaur / Flickr

A blood pressure meter.

Aired 8/6/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

New Project Aims To Reduce Heart Attacks, Strokes In San Diego County

GUESTS

Dr. Anthony DeMaria, cardiologist, UC San Diego Health System

Dr. Nick Yphantides, chief medical officer, San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency

A San Diego-area healthcare coalition was awarded a $5.8 million grant for a program designed to reduce heart attacks and strokes, UC San Diego Health announced Monday.

The goal of the three-year project, involving as many as 4,000 high-risk patients, is to lower their blood pressure and cholesterol levels through evidence-based practices and a better understanding of the importance of adhering to a course of treatment.

The program includes promoting preventative measures, testing novel and cost-effective technology solutions and providing educational opportunities for patients and physicians.

"Health organizations that are competitive in the market will be working together for the benefit of San Diego patients," said Dr. Anthony DeMaria, the principal investigator of the Heart Attack and Stroke Free Zone program and a cardiologist with UC San Diego Health System. "This approach will decrease our community's risk for cardiovascular disease and could result in saving millions in the county by preventing half of the heart attacks and strokes that would have otherwise occurred in the participating patient population."

Beside UCSD, coalition partners include Arch Health Partners, Scripps Health, Sharp Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Palomar Medical Center, the Naval Medical Center, the Veterans Administration, the San Diego County Medical Society Foundation, the county of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, and community clinics.

Patients will be enrolled through their physician's office beginning later this year. Participants will get blood-pressure cuffs to monitor levels at home and will work closely with a health care coach.

"Because it's a silent condition, we find that many patients are unaware of having hypertension, and only about 40 percent of patients diagnosed with high blood pressure take their medication, which can directly lead to cardiovascular disease," said Katherine Bailey, head of the coalition. "We hope through the Heart Attack and Stroke Free Zone program, we can increase this to 80 percent."

The grant came from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services via the Affordable Care Act.

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