Albany Med Initiative to Combat Hypertension
Sees Big Gains in Treatment Success
Coordination with Community’s Primary Care Physicians Key to Results
Know the Facts
Patients who have high blood pressure when seen by an Albany Med physician are nearly twice as likely to have their condition under control compared to patients with hypertension nationwide, thanks to a program developed at Albany Med more than two years ago.
Working across specialties and in collaboration with community physicians, Albany Med physicians closely monitor and manage the blood pressure for every one of the hundreds of thousands of patients they see every year, regardless of whether the primary condition they are being treated for relates to hypertension.
Calling hypertension a “silent killer,’ cardiologist Ferdinand Venditti, M.D., vice dean for clinical affairs and head of the Albany Med Faculty Physicians group, said uncontrolled hypertension can be debilitating if left untreated.
“By working in collaboration with the entire Albany Med Faculty Physicians group, as well as our community colleagues, we are seeing important gains – which can be life saving for many patients who may not be aware that they have high blood pressure,” Dr. Venditti said.
He noted that hypertension impacts more than one in three Americans and is a leading cause of strokes, heart attacks and other serious illnesses.
Since adopting protocols in 2012 to closely monitor, report and treat patients’ hypertension in collaboration with patients’ primary care physicians, the percentage of Albany Med patients diagnosed with hypertension who were able to lower their blood pressure through treatment rose to 90 percent in 2014 from 66 percent in 2012. According to the American Heart Association, in 2013 only 52 percent of Americans with hypertension nationwide have it under control.
Through this initiative, the more than 450 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. Venditti noted that through October 2014, repeat blood pressure measurements were taken of patients with high blood pressure 90 percent of the time, which is far above industry standards. This is an important step in the process of care.
“There are no specific signs or symptoms of hypertension and it can cause much harm to your body before it is detected,” said Arif Asif, M.D., Thomas Ordway Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Albany Medical College and chief of Nephrology and Hypertension. “Through this established program, Albany Med has made the detection and treatment of hypertension a priority in every area of our practice, and it is making a significant difference for our patients.”
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 meaningful lifestyle changes are essential to getting high blood pressure under control,” Dr. Venditti said. “Medication combined with healthy eating habits, regular exercise and choosing not to smoke are the crucial elements 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 8,000 employees.