Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) recently launched HeartAware, a web-based health assessment program that helps to identify a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. With this innovative tool now available on the web, NCH can reach more community members than ever before. It’s free, easy to use, and provides baseline data that can spark conversations about heart health between patients and their primary care physician before it’s too late.
Bonnie DeGrande, director of Cardiovascular Services, explains that HeartAware enriches NCH’s education and outreach efforts by bringing to light the dangers of this deadly and silent disease. “Our goal is to identify people who may be generally healthy, but are unaware of their elevated risk of heart disease,” DeGrande says. “This program allows us to engage these individuals, suggest lifestyle changes that can reduce their risk, and direct them back to their primary care physician for a more complete evaluation and follow-up plan.”
The HeartAware program first begins with participants accessing the online cardiac risk assessment at nch.org/heartaware. The easy-to-use assessment collects several factors related to a person’s heart health, such as personal and family medical history, cholesterol levels, weight and diet. It takes approximately seven minutes to complete.
Upon completing the assessment, participants are issued a customized health report detailing their risk level as being low, moderate or high. The assessment’s survey and risk classifications are founded on the Framingham Risk Score, an evidence-based protocol that is a highly regarded and nationally recognized predictor of cardiovascular disease. The report also includes lifestyle modifications to help individuals reduce their overall risk for heart disease (e.g., weight management, exercising, not smoking).
Individuals whose score indicates a high risk level will be offered a free, in-person consultation with a member of the NCH cardiac rehab team. The clinician will review the findings of the online assessment with the participant. A full lipid profile and a glucose test with immediate results are included in the consult at no extra cost. Altogether, the data is prepared in a report for participants to share with their primary care doctor.
According to DeGrande, letting primary care physicians know about the consultation is a top priority. “In every circumstance, we make it clear to the participant that they are to follow up with their physician for a more thorough review and formalized action plan,” she says. “If they don’t have a primary care doctor, we will connect them with HealthConnection to identify a physician who is conveniently located near them.”
Manjeet Sethi, MD, chief of Cardiology at NCH, looks forward to the positive impact that a far-reaching resource like HeartAware will have in the community. “Too many people are living with asymptomatic heart disease and are unaware of the effects it can have on their health over time,” Dr, Sethi says. “This is a great program that helps community members to assess their risk of heart disease and to take appropriate measures before it’s too late. It also offers each individual with practical solutions for leading a more heart healthy lifestyle.”
For more information about HeartAware, contact Bonnie DeGrande at 847.618.7663.