February is American Heart Month

10 February 2022

February is American Heart Month, the perfect opportunity for Americans to take stock of their cardiovascular health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease has remained the number one killer of Americans for nearly a century. While the trend continues, there is good news: most heart-related diseases and deaths can be prevented with small lifestyle changes and regular health screenings.

Jenna Colatruglio, Pharm.D. and Senior Director of Clinical and Pharmacy Network at PDMI, offered a few examples of how people can stay ahead of the cardiovascular curve and maintain their heart health.

  • Engage in regular physical activity: studies have shown that approximately 150 weekly minutes of moderate activity can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, a top contributor to cardiovascular disease, according to the CDC.
  • Understand your blood pressure: getting to know your blood pressure can be done by monitoring and understanding your numbers. The first number -  systolic blood pressure -  measures your arterial pressure when your heart beats; the second number -  diastolic blood pressures -  measures arterial pressures when your heart rests between beats. Those who consistently experience 140/90 mm Hg or higher are considered to have high blood pressure.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: those that are overweight have a higher risk of heart disease due to the extra stress on the heart and blood vessels, as well as its link to increased blood pressure.
  • Avoid processed foods: though delicious, they’re often packed with fat, sugar and sodium, ingredients that can lead to high cholesterol and hypertension.
  • Get quality sleep: poor sleep habits can lead to poor heart health, including the possibility for high blood pressure. The heart needs rest as the body needs rest, so it’s beneficial to establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it.

It’s also essential, noted Colatruglio, to create a plan to monitor your health.

“Getting an understanding of your baseline numbers can help you to monitor them properly and proactively,” said Colatruglio. “You can watch for early warning signs of cardiovascular disease and understand what steps should be taken to manage them and maintain heart health.”

And, as always, collaborate with your care team as you create your plan, especially your pharmacist.

“Pharmacists are in the primary position of a patient’s care team at the point of dispensing a medication,” said Colatruglio. They can help provide patient education on proper use of medication, side effects, and discussing how to manage your heart health.”

Proper use of medication starts with member adherence and having proper Concurrent Drug Utilization Review (DUR) for your claims. PDMI can help. If you have questions about improving member adherence of heart specific medications, contact our PDMI and our clinical team or read more about our Clinical Consulting Resources.