News Release 

Federal program leads to intensified treatment for high-risk heart patients

American Heart Association Meeting Report - Presentation 19

American Heart Association

DALLAS, May 15, 2020 -- When health care providers enrolled in a federal program that provides financial payments for monitoring and reducing cardiovascular risk in high-risk patients, they assessed patient risk and prescribed cholesterol-lowering and blood pressure-lowering medication more often, according to research presented today at the American Heart Association's Quality of Care & Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2020. The virtual conference, May 15-16, is a premier global exchange of the latest advances in quality of care and outcomes research in cardiovascular disease and stroke for researchers, healthcare professionals and policymakers.

As part of a broader initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in the United States over five years, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched the Million Hearts Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduction Model (Million Hearts®). The model pays health care providers for measuring each of their Medicare patients' risk of having a heart attack and stroke over 10 years and for reducing that risk among their high-risk patients.

The model specifically targets Medicare beneficiaries ages 40-79 who have not had a previous heart attack or stroke. As part of a five-year, cluster-randomized trial, providers calculated their Medicare patients' risk of having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years, and received incentives to provide care to reduce the risk among high-risk patients (those with 30% or higher risk of a cardiovascular event at the beginning of the study).

Analysis of the first two years of the Million Hearts program found:

  • Within six months of enrollment in the program, people identified as high-risk at a Million Hearts® center were more likely to initiate or intensify statin therapy or anti-hypertensive medications compared to high-risk people in the control group (28% vs. 24%, respectively).

  • Million Hearts® providers indicated they were nearly twice as likely than the control group of providers to assess risk in at least half of their Medicare patients (71% vs. 39%, respectively).

  • Overall, 300,550 Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in the study across 516 primary and specialty practices, health centers and hospitals throughout the U.S. Half of the enrolled centers were assigned to the intervention group and utilized the Million Hearts® Model.

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Co-authors and disclosures are in the abstract. The study was funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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The opinions expressed here are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or any of its agencies.

Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the Association's policy or position. The Association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The Association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific Association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations and health insurance providers are available at https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/aha-financial-information.

About the American Heart Association

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