Thursday, August 9, 2007

Five Preventive Steps Could Save 100,000 American Lives A Year, New Report

Five Preventive Steps Could Save 100,000 American Lives A Year, New Report

09 Aug 2007

A new study by the Partnership for Prevention suggests that over 100,000 lives could be saved every year in the US by increasing the use of five preventive health services. The biggest impact would be saving 45,000 lives by encouraging more adults to take a daily low dose of aspirin to prevent heart disease, said the report which was sponsored by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the WellPoint Foundation.

Other measures that would save tens of thousands more American lives every year include more adults getting flu shots and increased use of cancer screening.

The report said there are serious shortcomings in the take up of preventive care across the US, particularly by racial and ethnic minorities.

Dr Eduardo Sanchez, Chair of the National Commission on Prevention Priorities, a panel set up by Partnership for Prevention to guide the study, said:

"A lot of Americans are not getting live-saving preventive services, particularly racial and ethnic minorities. As a result, too many people are dying prematurely or living with diseases that could have been prevented."

"We could get much better value for our health care dollar by focusing upstream on prevention," explained Sanchez.

The study suggested that over 100,000 lives could be saved each year by raising to 90 per cent the proportion of adults who took part in a number of preventive health services:

45,000 lives saved from more adults taking a daily low dose of aspirin (current take up rate is below 50 per cent).

42,000 more lives saved by offering smokers professional help to quit, including medication (current level is below 28 per cent).

14,000 more lives saved by more adults having regular screening (current level is below 50 per cent).

saved by more adults aged 50 or over having an annual flu shot (current level is below 37 per cent).

Nearly 4,000 more lives saved by increasing the number of women aged 40 or over who have been screened for breast cancer in the last two years (current level is 67 per cent).

The report also suggests that 30,000 cases of pelvic inflammatory disease would be prevented every year by taking up to 90 per cent the proportion of sexually active young women who have been screened in the past year for chlamydial infection (current take up rate is less than 40 per cent).

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Julie Gerberding, said:

"This report illustrates that the health benefits would be great if more people took preventive actions."

"More illnesses would be avoided, fewer lives would be lost, and there would be more efficient use of our limited health care resources. It's important that all of us make a concerted attempt to focus our energies and efforts on preventing disease, not just treating it," she added.

The report also showed that minorities are at major risk. African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans use preventive health services at a much lower rate than white, non-Hispanics.

For example, Hispanic smokers are 55 per cent less likely to seek professional help to quit compared with white smokers, and Asian Americans are the lowest users of the daily dose of aspirin method to prevent heart disease, and they are the lowest users of screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers.

President of Partnership for Prevention, John M. Clymer, said:

"The bottom line is that we need to strengthen the US health system by investing more in preventing disease."

"This new report makes it clear that following a few preventive steps may end up saving your life," he added.

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