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Stanford study highlights cost-effective method of lowering heart disease risks
Date:8/20/2007

STANFORD, Calif. - As U.S. policy experts continue to search for ways to re-engineer the country's health-care system, a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine shows that a case-management approach helped a diverse group of patients reduce their overall risk of heart disease by roughly 10 percent, and did so in a cost-effective way.

Case management makes use of specially trained health-care personnel, such as nurses and dietitians, who help patients manage chronic conditions on a long-term basis. Case managers handle many of the counseling and tracking roles currently performed by physicians. By divvying up the duties, physicians can devote their attention to patients requiring their specific expertise, while patients get the ongoing counseling and support they need to maintain their health.

"This really is a feasible alternative to the way that we currently organize health care," said lead author Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. "Case management makes a lot of sense when it comes to chronic disease because you need to have constant contact with patients to pick up on any problems before they get worse."

The effectiveness of case management in providing preventive medical care and counseling has been explored in previous studies involving middle-class patients, but Stafford said this study is the first to test the approach in a diverse, low-income patient population. The study is published in the fall issue of the journal Disease Management.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic diseases - such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes - account for nearly 70 percent of the deaths in the United States, and affect the quality of life of more than 90 million Americans. Many of these diseases can be prevented or controlled through healthy behaviors, such as eating nutritious foods, getting regular exercise and avo
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Contact: Susan Ipaktchian
susani@stanford.edu
650-725-5375
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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