Albany Med Initiative Combats Hypertension
Early Diagnosis and Coordination with Community’s Primary Care Physicians Key to Success
An initiative developed last year by Albany Medical Center physicians to combat high blood pressure in the hundreds of thousands of patients they see every year has helped thousands control the potentially deadly condition.
Cardiologist Ferdinand Venditti, M.D., vice dean for clinical affairs and head of the Albany Med Faculty Physicians group, said that under protocols Albany Med adopted last year the percentage of Albany Med patients diagnosed with hypertension who were able to lower their blood pressure through treatment rose to 78 percent in 2013 from 66 percent in 2012. According to the American Heart Association, only 52 percent of Americans with hypertension nationwide have it under control.
Through this initiative, the more than 400 physicians in the practice from every specialty notify a patient’s primary care physician if high blood pressure is found during their visit regardless of the reason the patient was seen at Albany Med. Dr. Venditti said Albany Med physicians then work with the patient’s primary care physician to develop a coordinated treatment plan.
“Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to a wide range of serious and debilitating conditions,” Dr. Venditti said. “By working in a coordinated fashion with our entire practice as well as our community colleagues, we are seeing important gains.”
Hypertension, which impacts more than one in three Americans, is considered a “silent killer” and is a leading cause of strokes, heart attacks and other serious illnesses.
“There are no specific signs or symptoms of hypertension, so you may not even know you have it — even as it’s inflicting damage to your body,” said Arif Asif, M.D., Thomas Ordway Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Albany Medical College and chief of Nephrology and Hypertension. “Through this new program, Albany Med has made the detection and treatment of hypertension a priority in every area of our practice.”
Dr. Venditti noted that in 2012 Albany Med Faculty Physicians saw more than 22,000 patients with a diagnosis of hypertension; roughly 40 percent of them, including many people under age 40, had had high blood pressure readings despite treatment.
“An early diagnosis of hypertension, the development of a coordinated treatment plan and implementing lifestyle changes are all critically important,” Dr. Venditti said. “Medication in combination with a healthy diet, exercising regularly and quitting smoking are keys to controlling high blood pressure.”
In addition to the hypertension program, Albany Med also developed the region’s first pediatric hypertension program last year, and has embarked on a “Know Your Numbers” campaign to promote awareness of the dangers of hypertension to all of Albany Med’s more than 7,000 employees.